Recently, Matheus Facio Pires, the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club’s exchange student from Brazil, visited the club to reflect on his year in Fernandina Beach. While Mat will not be returning to Brazil for some weeks yet, he will be traveling extensively throughout the U.S. and wanted to say his goodbyes. In fact, Mat has spent much of his year traveling. His two host families saw to it that he enjoyed Thanksgiving in the mountains of Georgia, took in a volleyball game at the University of Florida in Gainesville as well as traveling to Missouri, Miami and the Bahamas. Mat also enjoyed time spent with other exchange students in the Florida Keys and at Disney World. His goal is to visit at least three more western states before he returns to Brazil.


In closing, Mat admitted that he nearly dropped out of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program when he learned he would be coming to the U.S. instead of his preferred destination country of Norway. However, he said that the past year has been eye-opening for him – completely changing his opinion of the U.S. and Americans. Now he believes he could not have chosen a better destination and said he will leave with many fond memories of Fernandina Beach and the U.S.