When Angalina, a 16 year-old student from Germany, arrived to America in August, she was immediately enchanted with the beauty of the Colorado mountains.

“Every morning I see the mountains and sunrise.  It makes my day!” says Angalina.

Since arriving to Colorado Springs on the PSE program, Angalina has enthusiastically embraced every experience and opportunity presented to her. When a few girls at her school asked her to join the cross-country team, learning that they would be running in the mountains, she couldn’t resist. Though she had not participated in cross-country before, she quickly took to the sport and is evidently a natural, as she is currently ranked one of the top runners in the entire state of Colorado.

“Running is hard…especially when it is raining, but it is enjoyable.  I can see a lot of nature because we run in the mountains.  I really like the teamwork, and we have a great team!” she says.

When a boy asked her to the Homecoming dance, she was thrilled. A group of her friends met at one of their homes for dinner before going to the dance. “We had a lot of fun at the school dance!” she shares.

Angalina’s host family took her to the Colorado State Fair, which was definitely a new experience to her. She recalls, “I had my first corn dog, and I liked it a lot!  The pig races were so funny, and my host mom bought me a little pig stuffed animal.  The horse show was also great!” Among other unique experiences at the fair were watching street performers and milking a fake cow.

For Halloween, Angalina participated in an event at Brenda, her Local Coordinator’s house, at which everyone made their own pizzas and carved pumpkins. The pumpkins were then judged by Brenda’s daughter for creativity and craft, and Angalina’s pumpkin was selected as the winner!

Angalina has become very close with the members of her host family and involved in their daily lives. She has host parents, host siblings, and even host nieces and nephews!

“Angie is a gem!” exclaims her host mother, Carmen. “she has adjusted to our family very well. We have grandchildren over at least once a week for supper, and she gets along so well with them. She held our newborn granddaughter for about five hours after she was born. This was very special and a new experience for Angie.”

Brenda, who describes Angalina as very diligent, sweet, and helpful, has witnessed how close Angalina has become with her host family. “Angalina loves being together with the whole family,” she observes.

Angalina and her host family also share a love of cooking. Carmen has learned certain recipes of meals native to Angalina’s village in Germany and has prepared them for her. Angalina is attempting to get a copy of her grandmother’s special apple cake recipe so she and Carmen can bake it together.

Through all of these shared experiences, Angalina is learning so much. She attended her first balloon festival, and her host sister took her to her first drive-in movie. She recently added the term “leaf-peeping” to her lexicon, which is an activity that entails driving through the mountains observing the leaves changing colors in the fall.

“After every turn, Angie would say, ‘Oooooohhhhhh!’ She really enjoyed that experience,” says Carmen.

It sounds like Angalina is truly enjoying and embracing every experience, and she will undoubtedly enjoy many more in the coming year.

Written by Flo Ruiz; Edited by Ann Steffen

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