Далеко от дома: A Long Way From Home

Rahma Ali ’15

Darima Dashidondokova, a foreign exchange student at Edward Little High School this year, comes from a small town called Aginskoye in Russia, just north of Mongolia.

Darima Dashidondokova enjoys the pep rally in September. The Russian exchange student has steeped herself in life at Edward Little.

Darima Dashidondokova enjoys the pep rally in September. The Russian exchange student has steeped herself in life at Edward Little. “Spirit week was amazing,” she said. “I felt myself part of EL…I love the spirit of this school. “

   Dashidondokova went to Aginskoye Okrug Gymnazium, her school back home. In Russia, students finish high school in 11th grade. Classes there are 45 minutes long and students usually have six classes a day.  At her old school, they didn’t have any art classes, only “serious stuff,” as Dashidondokova likes to call it. First to eighth grade students wear maroon uniforms, and ninth to eleventh grade students wear black uniforms.

Dashidondokova’s a member of many clubs here at Edward Little, such as the Speech and Debate club, Student Council and Drama club. After coming to Edward Little, Dashidondokova discovered she had  a hidden talent, acting. She joined drama club and even got a part in her first musical, Urinetown. Drama club is a new thing in her life and she finds it amazing. “We don’t have drama club at my school, but I wish we could,” Dashidondokova said. “I was a poor person in the Urinetown. I enjoyed the dancing and singing.”

Her favorite class so far is Mrs. Maloney’s senior writing class “She is so nice and I like all my classmates,” Dashidondokova said. “We have a lot of great discussions.”

Dashidondokova learned to speak English early on and even won some English competitions back in Russia. She still has a little trouble with the language due to the fact that she wasn’t required to speak it that often back home. She said, “Speaking was probably the hardest part for me here. It’s so sad to understand everything and not be able to answer.”

Becoming an exchange student is very popular in the town Dashidondokova lived in. It’s actually a contest where students enroll and wait to hear back to know if they were accepted or denied. Dashidondokova wanted to become a foreign exchange student so that she could learn about the country and improve her English.

Dashidondokova didn’t really care what state or family she ended up with, all she cared about was actually being in America. Dashidondokova said, “I wanted to come to [the] USA since I was little, it was my dream like a lot of my friends. American life seems so interesting and I just wanted [to] experience it, have fun, go to prom, learn traditions and travel.”

Her host mom is Jackie Bernier and host sister is Jessica Bernier. Dashidondokova said, “My host sister is a junior this year. She likes One Direction and she’s a nice person.”

Jackie Bernier said, “This is my third year hosting a student. I love learning about their country and cultures and also sharing the American culture with them.”

Darima Dashidondokova and her host sister, junior Jessica Bernier.

Darima Dashidondokova and her host sister, junior Jessica Bernier.

 Dashidondokova’s host family agrees that it’s interesting to see how the student will grow from the first time they get here to the end. Jessica Bernier said, “It’s fun to have a friend who actually lives with you. With Darima it’s even better since we have a lot in common, we both like to sing and draw.”

Dashidondokova is getting so involved and not wasting any of her time. She’s looking forward to many things. The drama clubs new show in January, prom and learning how to snowboard. “I just want to make my experience interesting and unforgettable!” she said.

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