“I had never really thought about it, because I didn’t know what a unique and diversified country it is. The more I learned, the more it appealed to me,” she said.
The objective, according to McGoldrick, is to have a sense of belonging and a second home by the end of the experience.
“My goal is to always cherish the time I have in my 10 months, even when the times get tough,” she said. “Personally, I hope to grow as a person, with more confidence and a better sense of myself and what I want to do after high school. I also want to leave a bit of myself behind in Brazil.”
McGoldrick, who has only been away from her family for a couple weeks at a time, said her biggest fear is getting through the first few months before understanding the language.
Geertgens, who has served as the chairman of the Cooperstown Club since 2004, said the personal growth that takes place in each student during their time of exchange is very rewarding to observe.
“I tell the students not to have expectations because it is never going to be what they expect. It is always going to be different,” he said.
The best advice Geertgens said he can give to students is to be proactive and engage themselves in the new culture as much as possible.
“I love to see their faces and listen to them as they talk about what wonderful experiences they had once they are back,” Geertgens said.
This will mark the first year graduated high schoolers from Cooperstown will not participate. According to Geertgens, there are very few countries that will accept students 18 or older and the district was finding it next to impossible to place students. However, he said there are now fewer restrictions when placing students.