Mat Facio Pires, exchange student from Brazil, speaks to the Club
The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently enjoyed a presentation by Matheus (Mat) Facio Pires, an exchange student from Brazil whom the club is sponsoring this year. Mat, who is enrolled at Fernandina Beach High School, hails from Maringa, a city about two and a half hours from Sao Paulo. At home, he attends a private school with a very different schedule from U.S. high schools. Three days a week, he attends school from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and two days from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. He studies some 26 subjects during 12 periods and has 60 fellow students in his classes. He said it isn’t unusual for some classes to include nearly 1,000 students. He spoke to the club about his home in the mountains of Brazil. Formerly a coffee plantation, the city of Maringa is actually a planned urban area built by the British in 1947. Mat said the area is still a major producer of coffee and is also the number one manufacturer in the world of blue jeans and baseball caps. The municipality has been heavily settled in recent years by both Japanese and Ukrainian immigrants and rivals Washington D.C. for the number of blossoming cherry trees planted by Japanese residents. Mat also shared some of the highlights of the country of Brazil noting it is the second largest manufacturer of aircraft in the world and is also the second largest agricultural country worldwide. He said that despite the economic downturn, Brazil’s economy has actually grown in the past few years. Mat, whose grandfather, grandmother and father are all Rotarians, is already involved in many activities at Fernandina Beach High, including the Interact Club. He said when he has finished his schooling, he wants to become a lawyer and, someday, a judge. Mat is just one of many inbound and outbound exchange students the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club has sponsored in the past few years.