Margarita Isanova ’10
Sterlitamak, Russia/Nephi, UT
djelsamina [at] mail [dot] ru

Students who just become finalists of an exchange program usually dream a lot. I’ve also dreamed about different things that would happen to me in America. When I finally arrived and found that my dreams were collapsing one by one, I was disappointed. After I’d buried yet another imaginary castle, I stopped for a second and thought, what am I doing wrong? I talked with my host parents about this, and my dad told me a secret of bringing dreams to life: we should make them our goals and try to achieve something rather than just think about them. I started to search for some opportunities, and I was surprised when I found a lot more than I’ve expected!

My favorite dream was to learn to ride a horse. When I received the information about my host family, I read that they owned mules, but I didn’t pay any attention to that. So when my host dad took me to our farm and I saw them (mules actually look a lot like horses), I was amazed. He said that mules are stronger than horses and they can walk up higher in the mountains, so we can ride them wherever and whenever we want. He taught me how to saddle and take care about these animals, and in a couple days we took the first ride up to the mountains. It was wonderful! I was sitting on the back of my mule, on the top of the hill watching the sunset when I thought that it’s unbelievable when dreams come true.

I love to do things I’ve never actually learn how to do “right.” For example, I love to draw and paint, but I’d never taken any art lessons before America. When one of my school friends saw my pictures, she said that I’m a great artist, and asked,”why didn’t you take an art class at school”? I said that I have my schedule completed and there is no time for any art lessons in it. She smiled and told me that her brother takes art lessons with a private teacher who doesn’t charge a lot, but she’s a wonderful woman and a skilled artist. I found out that she goes to the same church as my host parents, and my mom knows her well. When I talked with my host mom about this, she said that she was an artist herself and she had drawn all the pictures hanging in our house. I was surprised, and we started together. I was learning everything from the beginning, and she and my teacher were helping me. There was a lot of fun, joy and wonderful experiments with pictures and supplies. My teachers both said that if an artist doesn’t have fun making his works, they won’t be any good. I realized that they told me the truth. They found a hidden talent in me, and I’m so thankful for that.

I’ve been raised in a small family. My mom and I have been living together on our own for a long time, and I’ve always dreamed about a big family, where I could play and just hang out with brothers and sisters. In the documents describing my host family, I read that I was going to have two sisters at home, but actually one of them would be going to college two weeks after my arrival. When I came to my house, I saw a picture on the wall. There were my host parents and eight boys and girls. I asked, “Who are they?” “There are my children,” my host mom answered. “All eight of them?” I was surprised. My host parents have five daughters and three sons. Some of them are married and have their own kids already, some of them are in college, and one girl was at school with me. We met together every weekend at our house or went to visit each other, because most of them live in other towns. We had so much fun together with them and their kids! I love to play with small children, and my oldest sister has two wonderful girls, who became my awesome nieces. It’s normal to have five or ten children in a Utah family, so I had plenty of brothers, sisters, cousins, and other family members. When we celebrated Thanksgiving, we went to our grandparents’ home. I’ve tried to count how many people were in the house, but lost track after the first fifty.  I loved to have such a huge family! There is always somebody to hang out with. It was my biggest dream, and it came true.

Dreams are great. A person who dreams can achieve more than the one who doesn’t, but it takes time and effort to make our dreams – even the small ones – come true. It’s wonderful when you meet people who realize what kind of problems you have and try with all their hearts to help, as my host-parents did. They actually made all my dreams come true, and I’m so thankful to them! I would like to say to the next generations of exchange students: look for the opportunities and never stop searching for something that you would like to do, and you can bring your dreams to life.