Ukrainian student hopes to be an actress in America some day

Hunter Herbaugh Ranger-review Staff Writer
Sunday, December 5, 2021
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Ukraine native Zlata Godunova is pictured with her Glendive host parents Kelly and Steve Linder. Godunova is taking in as many experiences as she can while she spends her year at DCHS as a foreign exchange student. Hunter Herbaugh photo

To much of the world, the United States can seem like a far away place that provides some unique opportunities in life, so the chance to spend a year state-side is likely very appealing. At least it was to Zlata Godunova, one of this year’s foreign exchange students at Dawson County High School.

Coming from Ukraine, Godunova is an incredibly active individual who has aspirations of one day being an actress in the U.S. With her dream so focused on this country, she is happy to have the chance to be here.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for my future because I want to be actress in America, so I need improve my English and this program really helps me,” she said.

Godunova travelled as part of the AASE International Exchange Student Program, which she has known about for three years. Noting that to travel from Ukraine to the U.S. is normally an arduous task, she has been grateful to have the help to get here.

“It’s very hard for Ukrainian people to come to America, it’s very hard. So if I’m here, it’s really fantastic. I’m really happy because for my friends and my family, it’s, like, impossible to go to America,” she said.

Now that she is here though, and with the dream to eventually work in the American film industry, she has been throwing her self into whatever opportunities she has had to experience what life is like in the states. One way she’s been able to do that is through extracurricular activities, something that’s not usually offered by schools in Ukraine.

She has mainly been continuing her passion for the arts, joining honor choir and participating in two plays. Aside from her extracurricular activities, she has also picked up a lot of volunteer time, which is required as part of the exchange program, but she is aiming to have 100 volunteer hours, which is more than is actually required.

Kelly Linder, whose family is currently hosting Godunova, noted that she is the fifth exchange student they have had but is the first one they’ve hosted that has been so active.

“She’s our first one who’s a real go getter. She’s done two plays, she’s in dance, she’s in speech and drama, she’s just go, go, go constantly,” Linder said.

Linder added that she and her family try to help expose Godunova to American culture, but are somewhat limited by what is available in Glendive. Still, they have managed to do plenty together and have some fun doing it.

One thing that Godunova has really discovered, is how difficult learning English can be. With various phrases, figures of speech and so forth that don’t make sense to a non-native speaker of the English language, it can be hard deciphering everything. This has led to some misunderstandings between Godunova and her host family, but it’s usually been something that they can eventually laugh about in the end.

One example Linder gave was when she once asked Godunova to take something out of the oven when she wasn’t home and while Godunova thought she understood what was being asked, she admitted she actually had no idea. Luckily, Linder’s husband, Steve, got home and was able to help before any harm was done, so everyone was free to laugh about the language-barrier caused misunderstanding.

Overall, Godunova’s experience has been an enjoyable one and she will continuing to be as active as she can as long as she is here, she said.

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