When Marian Beladic arrived in Redwood Falls this past August, the plan was for him to stay for 10 months. As of this month, Beladic had been in the community for more than seven of those months, but that is all that he stayed.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exchange students like Beladic have gone home. He actually left March 22.

“I found out I was going home today,” Beladic said March 20, adding he was scheduled to get on a plane that Sunday for his return trip to Slovakia.

While Beladic admitted he was extremely disappointed, what was more disheartening for him was the fact that he did not get to say goodbye to the those who had become his friends. 

Beladic, who is from Slovakia, said he will have fond memories of his time in Redwood Falls, adding the school and the community have been very supportive of him.

“My favorite experience was playing football,” said Beladic. “I never played that before I came here.”

Beladic also had the chance to play hockey.

One of the things that impressed him most was the school spirit.

Beladic’s favorite class was speech and theater, adding that was also a whole new experience.

Having spent seven-plus months immersed in America has given Beladic an enhanced level of confidence in his English speaking skills.

“When I first came I was worried I would not be able to communicate with anyone,” he said.

People, he added, were very patient with him, adding they all wanted to talk with him and get to know him.

While he has gone home, Beladic said he already has plans to come back in the fall for a wedding.

Yes, said Beladic, coronavirus is an issue in Slovakia. In fact, he said lots of people are wearing masks.

Beladic wanted to thank the Alan and Laura Olson family for hosting him. He also wanted to thank all of his friends and the community as a whole for making him feel welcome.

- Submitted photo