Driggers home open to Brazilian student

Charlene and Darrell Driggers opened their home to Vinicius Padilla, an exchange student from Brazil, in January.

Padilla, 17, came to Hillsboro to improve his fluency in English and get to know American culture.

?I like the food, culture and the American people,? Padilla said.

This was his first trip to the United States. He said he wanted to come to a smaller town rather than live in a large city.

Since he arrived in January, Padilla has been trying new things and learning about the customs and culture.

?It?s a good country,? Padilla said. ?It?s a little bit cold. There is good food and pretty girls.?

He said he wants to try many things. Some of his favorite foods are nachos, Pop Tarts and Dr. Pepper. He also has tried Chinese food.

?Since I have been here, we had some amazing things, like snow, that I have never seen in my life,? Padilla said.

Although it was difficult at first understanding everything spoken in class, he said the teachers would take time to explain it to him.

Although he had almost 2,000 students in his school in Brazil, he said the buildings are about the same size, there aren?t many differences between the schools.

He has noticed how friendly everyone has been in the Hillsboro school.

Charlene said Padilla has adapted pretty well to his new environment. He is involved with the choir at school and this spring wants to join the golf team.

?It?s a new sport, but I hope I will be good,? he said.

In his spare time, Padilla enjoys playing guitar and listening to music. He also likes to e-mail his friends in Brazil and hang out with his American friends.

?It?s easier on kids because they can e-mail their friends and parents,? Charlene said.

Padilla said the first thing he remembers seeing when he got off of the plane was his new American family.

Charlene said they decided to have Padilla come stay with them on short notice. They received a call from the Center for Cultural Exchange one morning and made their decision by evening.

Charlene said she chose Padilla because of the similarities in their families. She is a part-time teacher and has three sons.

Padilla?s mother is a chemistry teacher and his father is a chemist. He also has two brothers.

?We just have them do stuff we do,? Charlene said.

She said they try to find new experiences for Padilla, which isn?t difficult because almost everything is new to him.

Since he has been here, they have gone to a hockey game, visited the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson and seen a movie.

Over spring break, he will go snow skiing in Denver, and during Easter they plan to take a trip to San Antonio or Chicago.

Each week he goes to church with his new family and attends the youth group. They also attend a monthly activity with CCE.

?We like to learn about cultures and like to give them an opportunity to come,? Charlene said.

To show them some of his culture, Padilla brought some items with him from Brazil.

?It just makes the world smaller when you know someone from somewhere else,? Charlene said. ?I think families should do it. It?s a good experience.?

When he goes back to Brazil, Padilla will finish his senior year, then wants to go to a university to study music.

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