When Csilla Vargova arrived in Alta a few days before the start of the school year in the fall from her home country of Slovakia, she was nervous about many things, including making friends and communicating in English.
She completed a year in high school, and even earned her diploma in Sunday's ceremony, and will head back to Slovakia soon. She admitted, speaking in now near-perfect English, "everyday I learned something new."
She has been made to feel welcome in the home of John and Pam Henderson, who by the way, hosted exchange student Zoli Grof, Csilla's first cousin, the year before.
"She was been nothing but joy," Pam said.
There were many tears the first few weeks of school as she became familiar with a high school routine so very different than the one she was used to and she learned to understand the teachers. During Homecoming week, things turned around for her. Friends were made, she had settled into the routine, her communication was becoming easier and she was having fun.
"Homecoming week was so crazy. It was amazing," she said.
"I have learned so much from my (host) parents and a lot from my friends and teachers. God knows why I was here. It was so amazing. I changed a lot; my friends and family changed me for my better side. And I want to say thank you to my teachers, house family, and Russell Hinkeldey and his family. I will always know I have two families in the United States."
She is confident in her English now and knows it will be helpful in her future plans. When Csilla returns home, she will be studying for her driver's license, a three-month process which cannot be completed until the age of 18. This fall she will begin a five-year course in hotel restaurant management. The first three years will be spent at an American university in Bratislaba, the capitol of Slavokia, and the final two will be spent at New York University of Prague.
"I am happy to be going home but these people all mean so much to me. I will miss them all very much."
Everyone is invited to a farewell party for Csilla on June 1, 5-8 p.m. at the Henderson home, 204 W. Third St.