Exchange students become ‘brothers’ while at Hamilton

  • Nicolas Alvarez (left) from Spain, and Victor Santos from Brazil have become homestay brothers at the home of Tom Olson.

This year at Hamilton High School there are four long-term exchange students; two of them are Victor Santos and Nicolas Alvarez.

Santos and Alvarez are staying with the same host father, Mr. Tom Olsen. Olsen is retired with children that have grown up and are living all over the country.

Santos is from Florianopolis, Brazil. Florianopolis has close to half a million people, much larger than Hamilton with a population of around 8,000.

Santos has two siblings and is 16 years old.

Alvarez is from Madrid, Spain, which is also much larger than Hamilton. Alvarez also has two siblings, two sisters.

Alvarez is also 16 years old.

Hamilton is very different from both of their home cities.

“Hamilton is so small,” Santos said. Alvarez agreed.

A major difference of the cities, other than the size, is that school is the center of the community according to Santos. Back in Florianopolis the school building itself is small, and there aren’t sports offered through his school.

At Alvarez’s school there are sports offered, but if you are any good you don’t play for the school. The school teams are for the kids who aren’t as good and couldn’t make the club teams that anyone who is competitive goes to.

Sch0ol is also much different back in both of their home cities. Academics are very important, so they don’t have much free time with all the homework and studying.

“We have way more free time here,” Alvarez said.

It wasn’t always fun for the two students. The first few days were hard because they didn’t know anyone except each other.

“It’s really hard but when you meet new people and it gets better,” Santos stated.

“It’s hard the first days of school, but it’s getting better,” Alvarez agreed. “The only bad part about this is that we miss home.”

Both Santos and Alvarez have made friends and like Hamilton. They are glad that they made the decision to come to Hamilton. Both boys also love their host family.

“It feels like we have known him our whole lives,” Santos said. “We really love him.”

Both Santos and Alvarez get along well with Olsen and his children when they visit. Olsen loves hanging out with them, especially playing cards.

“I would come home from school, and he would already have the cards out,” Alvarez said. “I don’t know what he did when we weren’t here.”

Santos and Alvarez feel like brothers. They both agreed that having the same host family made the experience better.

Santos participated in cross country this fall sports season. He wanted to do a sport when he got here because he doesn’t really have that opportunity at home.

After talking to Mr. Jerry Haggerty, the school athletic director, Santos was told cross country was the only option. He agreed to ‘play’ without even knowing what it was.

“He showed up not knowing anything about the sport or how much we ran, but he gave it his best effort and had a positive attitude,” Coach Jeremy Luhman recently said at the cross country end of season banquet.

Santos got shin splints shortly into the season but still continued to work. He rode the bike which can be difficult. Santos participated in a few races, in some he only ran the mile.

Even though he was injured, he still had a good time.

“I loved it because it’s nice to have something to do after school and you get so close,” Santos stated.

Santos made a great addition to the team and fit in very well.  Many team members were glad that he joined, as they had a great time and good laughs.

Meanwhile Alvarez did swimming this winter sports season.

Both Santos and Alvarez are enjoying Hamilton and their new experience.

“I love it here! It’s so awesome and different than Brazil,” Santos exclaimed.



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