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Jaffrey-Rindge

Time abroad is time exploring

Brazilian reflects on her experience of living in Jaffrey, as well as future goals

  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Isadora Castro of Minas Gerais, Brasil discusses her student exchange experience at Conant High School. Paddy McCarthy and John McCarthy of Jaffrey were Castro's first host parents. She has since stayed with two other families in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

Yellow school buses, student yearbooks, after-school clubs and sports teams were the subjects of many stories about America that Isadora Martins Amaral Castro of Minas Gerais, Brazil, heard about as a child. Castro’s father had studied in the U.S. as a young man in the 1980s and stayed with a host family in Seattle, Wash. More than 30 years later, Castro — now armed with her father’s stories and what she called idealistic images of America — embarked on a similar study abroad adventure at the age of 17.

But Castro wouldn’t stay in Seattle, Boston or even New York City, the places she had become familiar with through her studies; Castro learned from Rotary International she’d be spending nearly a year in the small town of Jaffrey, which has a population of less than 6,000 people.

“Minas Gerais has about 107,000 people and its only the 24th largest city in Brazil,” Castro said laughing during a recent interview at Conant High School, while speaking about her home city. “I have never been to such a small town. But I read up a lot on [Jaffrey] and I was happy to come here. I think it’s awesome that you’re surrounded by nature all the time.”

The day after Castro arrived in Jaffrey in the fall of 2012 , she went blueberry picking with Paddy and John McCarthy — her first of three host families who volunteered their time for the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary Club’s Youth Exchange. Since then, Castro said, she’s been apple picking, ice skating, skiing and hiking, in addition to a road trip to Florida and back in December 2012. And through it all, Castro said, she was sure to capture those memorable moments with a video camera so that she could later share them with family and friends in Brazil.

Castro said she chose to study in the U.S. with the hope that she would discover more about the professional careers that interest her. Castro said she learned history, math and the study of languages — including her native Portuguese and her second language, English — are among her favorite academic subjects. She also discovered an interest in psychology and architecture. Castro admitted that she didn’t exactly settle on a lifelong career during her time abroad. But just maybe her experience revealed something less tangible and, some might argue, more significant.

“The important thing is it really changed everything in my life and made me a different person,” Castro said. “I wasn’t shy, but I thought I had to be the best at everything all the time for people to like me. I learned you don’t have to be perfect to be special and for people to like you.”

Now, Castro said it’s difficult to think about the day when she’ll have to leave New Hampshire and return to Brazil. “It’s really hard to leave a place when you don’t know if you are going to see people again,” she said. But it is her dream, she said, to return to the U.S.

John McCarthy, who raised three sons, said it was a rewarding experience to host Castro, who he considers the daughter he never had. Saying goodbye to her on July 16 won’t be easy, he said. “Though we have helped other families place students, we had not hosted an exchange student ourselves before,” McCarthy said. “We had a lot of nice conversations around the dinner table about Brazil and America and the differences between the two countries. ...The time went by too fast.”

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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