Mizzou Academy Welcomes Visiting High School Scholars from Brazil for Mizzou International Experience

Posted in: News
MIE Welcome Group Photo

On Wednesday, July 13, doctoral student Lindsey Mirielli planned to meet visiting high school scholars at the St. Louis International Airport. However, when several flights were rerouted, she had to ask the driver to turn the charter bus around and head back to Columbia. Lindsey’s bus mates included four undergraduate ambassadors and Giovanna Zulim, a visiting high school student who had met the team in St. Louis. 

Mizzou International Experience Program Director Dr. Ta Boonseng was unrattled by the changing flights. “It’s just our first adventure,” he said. Boonseng stayed in St. Louis to meet Davi, the sole scholar whose flight was still heading to that airport. 

Meanwhile, in Columbia, Lindsey directed the ambassadors to unfold a large welcome banner. 

“How do you say ‘welcome’ in Portuguese?” asked Daniil Rakov, an international student from Ukraine who is studying international business.

“Bem vindos,.” said Giovanna, patiently working with the ambassadors on getting the pronunciation correct. 

Moments later, the receiving room at the Columbia Regional Airport was filled with participants of the fourth Mizzou International Experience summer program. After such a long journey, nourishment was the first order of business. The students enjoyed hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes as they got to know their Mizzou ambassadors. 

The visiting scholars are all Dual Diploma students with Mizzou Academy, meaning they are pursuing both high school diplomas at their local schools in Brazil and a second high school diploma with Mizzou Academy. Later that evening, scholars met with some of the faculty and staff from Mizzou Academy. Gabriela Balas was especially looking forward to meeting Language Arts Specialist Nancy Stoker. 

“She is just the nicest teacher,” said Gabriela, who took several photos with her beloved instructor. 

Dr. Kathryn Fishman-Weaver, Executive Director of Mizzou Academy, welcomed the group saying, “During these next few weeks, we don’t want you to think of yourselves as guests here. Instead, you are family. You are part of the Mizzou Academy community. You are also representatives of both our school and your local schools in Brazil. Our expectations for you are high as is our enthusiasm to have you with us on this beautiful campus. Bem vindos.” 

MIE Student Collage

The celebration included lots of reconnecting, including a special moment shared by Dr. Adrian Clifton and Luiza Dutra. Dutra serves as the Mizzou Programs Coordinator at Colégio Magno in São Paulo, SP. Dr. Clifton now serves as a Speech and Debate Specialist for Mizzou Academy. Prior to that, she spent two years teaching at Colégio Magno in Brazil. The two old friends embraced and picked up right where they had left off in São Paulo.

Intercultural friendships such as these are one of the program objectives of Mizzou International Experience. Dr. Ta Boonseng, who is an expert in intercultural competency training, smiled warmly at the group as they got to know each other that first day.  

As the sun started to set, Linsdey Mirielli turned up the music. Zara Tola, a psychology undergraduate, and Dr. Adrian Clifton gathered the students together for a lesson in the “Cha Cha Slide.” There was a lot of laughter and delight as program administrators and teachers joined in for the dancing. 

To close out the evening, Mirielli passed out MIE Bingo cards. In this get-to-know-you game, participants have to meet people with different characteristics such as someone who has ridden a camel, or someone who plays a musical instrument. One of the squares asks you to find someone who drinks coffee each day. 

“Hey, Lindsey,” asked a student, “Do you drink coffee every day?”

“Yes, I do.” she said, considering, “but in all the excitement, I guess I never got there today.”


Dr. Boonseng and the MIE team have planned an engaging two weeks for our visiting high school scholars. Program highlights include visits to seven academic departments on campus and field trips to the Missouri State Capitol, the Missouri Supreme Court, and professional sites such as Boeing and Bayer. Additionally, the group will participate in guided self-discovery assessments, team building sessions, and various recreational activities. The Mizzou International Experience program culminates in a student-led poster showcase and certificate ceremony on July 27.

MIE Students in Group Photo