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Exchange Student Finds Home
After staying briefly with a couple of different host families to start the school year, 17-year-old Felipe Dal Medico has now found a home ... living with Joe and Maria Pires and attending Escalon High School as a junior.

Maria Pires, who works in the classroom of Mark Loureiro, said it works out well, with Dal Medico now riding to school with her every day.

The Brazilian teen was briefly enrolled in Oakdale High School to start the school year and played soccer there at the start of the season, then moved in with a young couple but started looking for a new home after they welcomed the arrival of a newborn.

Finally finding a place to call home, Dal Medico is looking forward to settling in for the rest of the year.

"I miss my family and friends in Brazil," he admitted quietly, "but I have good people here."

Classified as a junior at Escalon High, Dal Medico admitted the coursework is pretty tough right now.

"It's difficult because it's another language, it's hard to understand the teachers sometimes," he said.

But he is making his way, has made some friends at EHS and enjoys spending time with American teens.

He has an older brother, 21, in Brazil and a younger sister, 14.

"I miss them, but having a host family is fun, learning different things, a different culture," he said.

If he was attending school this year in his native Brazil, Dal Medico would actually be nearly finished, as the school year there starts in February and ends in November. School begins at 7 a.m. and finishes at 12:30 p.m., with December and January the 'summer break' for students.

"In Brazil you can't choose the classes," he said of not having any electives. "You have the classes you need and you stay in those classes."

Host mom Maria Pires said this is the first time her family has served in the host capacity.

"My mom was from Brazil so I felt a connection," she said. "When it didn't work out with the Oakdale family, he went to stay with some friends of ours, they said they would take him temporarily since they were having their first baby."

When the baby came, Pires said it seemed right that they should extend a home to the teen.

"It's been a difficult transition for him, he started at OHS and played soccer there but couldn't play here," Pires said, noting that he had made some friends among the OHS soccer team. "But my husband watches soccer so they enjoy talking bout it."

Dal Medico has also been introduced to golf, another family favorite for the Pires family, but said it is more difficult to play than it looks.

Still, he is also enjoying some family camping trips and playing video games.

"I think it would be easier if we had high schoolers in the house," Pires said.

Son Anthony graduated from Escalon in 2003 and Jason graduated in 2006. Both are students at Stanislaus State, Jason lives in Turlock and Anthony lives at home but between fulltime work and fulltime school, isn't there very often.

"His English isn't as far along as he'd hoped," Pires added of Dal Medico. "We have to remember not to speak Portuguese to him because he needs to work on his English. But he is the most respectful person, a very, very nice young man, his parents did a good job with him."

Dal Medico's father operates a Home Depot in Brazil and the teen said he eventually expects to work in the business, but first wants to see more of the world.

"I want to learn English better," he said. "I want to travel around the world, to know different countries, different cultures."

And while Dal Medico is excited about his year in America, he said adjusting to small town life is difficult. His hometown of Bauru has a population of about 300,000 ... a far cry from the roughly 7,000 people in Escalon.

"I miss noises," he said. "The cars, the people talking ... I like the big city."