Mayfield High Prom Date Came From Brazil Through Canada
Skype chats led to taking girl to event.
Paulo Noguiera became something of a celebrity during his nine-day visit to Mayfield Heights.
A resident of Sorocaba, a city in the state of São Paulo in southeastern Brazil, Noguiera, 18, came here to stay with Margaret Valletta and her family and to take Morgan Snider to the Mayfield High School prom.
At 6-foot-2, he was easy to spot as the new kid around the school.
"I'd be walking down the hallway and hear people say, 'That's Paulo.' Everyone knew who I was," he said.
Valletta's best friend, Adrianna Giampietro, was Noguiera's English teacher and he's been chatting on Skype with the Valletta family for two years, improving his English in the process.
During one of these chats, Morgan Snider was at the Valletta house and they started their own online conversations.
"In December, Morgan was over there and they were talking across the computer," said Diane Snider, Morgan's mother. "He said he would take her to prom. For someone to come from another country, it's kind of exciting."
Noguiera said prom here was very different from what he experienced in Brazil.
"Everyone is together – you bring your parents and guests. Each student has their own table. You dance the waltz. You dance with your date, but I also danced with my mom."
In addition to the prom and after prom, his whirlwind Cleveland stay included a ride on Lolly the Trolley with Mayfield Middle School students, visits to Cedar Point and the West Side Market and a Cleveland Indians game.
"I didn't stop a minute," Valletta said. "He's going to need a vacation when he gets home."
However, his next stop was back in Winnipeg with a host family he's spent the past year with as an exchange student through Rotary International.
"I have always wanted to be an exchange student. We watch movies about high school here," he said.
Although he would have liked to have lived with a host family in the United States, he enjoyed his time in Canada and said much of the experience was what he expected. But there was one thing that wasn't quite as much fun as it appeared to be.
"My dream when I was a kid was to take a yellow bus. I just had my mom taking me to school. They were all taking the bus and they were all happy," he said. However, the truth was that the bus was smaller than he thought and students weren't too pleased to be taking it to school.
Valletta said she's a big supporter of student exchanges – Giampietro was a exchange student attending Mayfield High when they met.
"If you don't get exposed to other cultures, you miss out on so much," she said. "My mom had friends from Columbia and Venezuela. People tell me all the time, 'You're just like your mother.' They're right."
She said Nogiuera's stay was a good experience for three sons and daughter Adrianna, 8, named after her Brazilian friend.
"He's family as far as I'm concerned. He's my Brazilian son," Valletta added.
Noguiera said he'd like to come back to the United States for college, but might have to settle for Canada because of tuition costs. His goal is to follow in Giampietro's footsteps by studying English here and going back to Brazil to be a teacher.
He said he actually prefers the U.S. to Brazil, mainly because of the number of things to do.
"The kids are more into sports here. In Brazil, everyone just plays soccer or basketball and the games are far away," he said.
Despite the fun of playing his first football game (in Canada) and riding the variety of roller coasters at Cedar Point ("We have an amusement park, it has one roller coaster"), Noguiera will be happy to be back home in July.
"I miss the people first, then the food. I miss my grandmother's cooking," he said.