(Eleonora from Moldova studying in Texas)
We have so many truly amazing and talented young students at Aspect Foundation, but certain students really stand out from the pack. Today, we are putting the spotlight on a standout student who has been making the most of her exchange year, Eleonora from Moldova! Eleonora is studying in Texas on a scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program. She lives with the Goddard family, and has been filling her year with family trips, volunteering, and fun at school! We asked Eleonora to share some of her experiences from this year with us; see what she had to say below.
My journey started more than a year ago, when my friends literally convinced me to try something totally new. And everything changed after one phone call. They told me that I am going to study in the U.S.A! It changed my life and transformed it into the lyrics of a song. The most perfect one is Don‘t Stop Believin’. It starts like this:
Just a small town girl
Livin’ in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere
That was literally me, only the train was a plane. Even when I was already flying, I couldn‘t believe that I was going to spend my year in America. I was so afraid that my host family wouldn’t like me, or that I wouldn’t be able to be a good exchange student. I remember when I got to the airport in Fort Worth, Dallas and I got lost. I couldn’t find the exit, but when I did and I saw for the first time my mom, Vicky. I felt calm and peaceful. I just new that I am going to have the best year of my life, and I was right! We went to lunch where I met my dad, John, and from the first day he started joking with me. I was sure we would get along. I was happy that I got the best host family ever. We don’t share the same blood, but we have the same soul. This year, I am also blessed to have the best coordinator in the world, Sherri, who also has been here for me. Thank you for all the parties you planned for us and thank you for all your support and memories!
During this year I did about 100 hours of volunteering and even now, I’m still volunteering because it is a great way to meet new people and to help somebody. My heart is melting when somebody tells me just a Thank You, after I have helped them. Those words are worth everything.
I started with tutoring in French class. It is a great way to spend my time. Students who come to the tutorials are surprised that what I am doing is fun. They look at me like, ‘Are you serious right now?’ But when they tell me that they really learned something and that I have helped them to understand French better, my day starts to be great. I even heard a classmate say something like ‘You know what? I thought that I was pretty good in French. That was before you came!’ She said that with a big cordial smile and it made me laugh.
I also volunteered at one of the Ford dealerships by filing the documents. I met a lot of beautiful people there. They were so interested in my country and my culture that day. I think I was talking for more than an hour!
A week ago, me, my group of exchange students, and our coordinator made sandwiches for homeless people. That was so fun and wonderful. When you know that you going to help and realize that maybe this sandwich might be the one thing she or he is going to eat for a couple of days, it makes you think about how lucky are you in this life. Knowing that those hours which you spend there, making all those sandwiches, that they are not enough to feed even half of the homeless, you think about that and you just want to do more and more.
Back home, in Moldova, we have volunteering communities too. I will definitely continue doing volunteering. I would love to expand the tutorials for more classes because it is a great way to help and spend time with great people.
I attend the Timber Creek High School in Fort-Worth. It looks like a real college campus. The school is three times bigger than that of the one back home. I remember the first time I stepped foot there. I was with my mom. I stepped inside and my mouth opened, my eyes became bigger and I just stared at everything. I was scared. I told my mom that I will be lost on my first day of school. She laughed. I was sure that I would be late for classes, because the break is only six minutes! I guess I was wrong. Yes, on the first day I looked for my first period for around 15 minutes, because I couldn’t figure out what the letters on the front of the rooms meant. It took me a while to understand that was the name of the hall.
This year, I think I was a pretty good student. Every six weeks, I made the ‘A Honor Roll,’ which means that I got A’s in all my classes. I have teachers who saw my work and wanted me in their class next year. Like this year I am in Theater I, and one day I performed an original play with a couple of classmates, where we wrote the scenes. The teacher of Theater II saw my performance and told me that he wants me in his class next year. Also, my journalism teacher was very disappointed when he understood that I am going home after this year, because he needs me in the newspaper. It is really amazing to see that people appreciate you and want to keep working with you.
The high school here is totally different from the one in Moldova. We don’t switch classes, we don’t have the opportunity to choose the classes which we want to study, and we don’t have the same diversity of sports and clubs.
Due to the large number of students in my school, here in Texas, only Seniors can attend our prom and I am only a Junior. However, the administration approved it and are allowing me to go to prom! So, I am very excited to experience the American Prom!
Recently, my host family and I went on a road trip to San Antonio where I was able to see a part of the U.S. history with my own eyes. It was an amazing week. I visited the Alamo, I did the Riverwalk, and I was impressed with all the beautiful buildings which have been there for years. Like the church which was built in the middle of a commercial center. One day, we went to SeaWorld which was a lot of fun. We saw shows, got some crazy rides, and ate delicious food. We saw all the animals and they were just beautiful.
I have two more months here. It is just crazy how fast time flies. It seems like yesterday I came here, and now I am thinking about how I will pack a room into a suitcase. Exchange year is a big opportunity. If you are gonna be an exchange student next year, just say YES to everything, even if you think that you will be terrible at it. This is how you make memories. Try to challenge yourself. Try to make as many friends as you can. They will be very interested to know about you and your culture. Get involved, be open-minded, and just live every day here like it is the last one. Obey the rules and be a good ambassador of your country, because this year will be one of the best in your life. When you are old, you will have cool stories to tell your grandchildren. Make them proud of you.
This year seemed like a minute long and I cannot believe that soon I have to leave everything here. The hardest part is to leave my family. I am the luckiest girl in the world. I have two perfect families in two different parts of the world. I don’t have enough words to tell you how grateful I am for everything my host family has done for me. Thank you for all the trips which we had. Because of you, I fell in love every month, sometimes every day, with a new city. You gave me the opportunity to see the most beautiful cities in the world. Thank you, because now my computer is full with cool pictures like ones which you see in travel pages on Instagram. Thank you for listening and being interested in what is happening in my life. Thank you for taking me to Dolly Parton’s concert. Thank you for keeping me busy every day. Thank you for the most beautiful prom dress. Thank you, for believing in me every day. Thank you for being here, for me. Thank you for choosing me to became your daughter, to be a part of your family. Thank you for all the evenings full of happiness and joy. Thank you for making me laugh and for all of the awful pictures which you posted! I think a week will not be enough time to tell you everything that I am grateful for. Thank you for being you. I love you with all my heart. I did not know that you can consider people who you’ve known for 7-8 months family, but you showed me that this is possible. I love you. My eyes are full of tears when I think that soon I have to leave, but I will be back and I will wait on you in Paris (I hope).
With love, your daughter,
Do you know a standout student that you would like to see featured? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.