New at North: Slovakian Exchange Students

Kristián Kosterec and Petra Martonova have traveled all the way from Slovakia in Central Europe to study abroad fall semester at Minnehaha Academy. They attend C.S Lewis Bilingual High School, a private, bilingual Christian high school located in Bratislava, the capital.

“I wanted to go somewhere junior year, and this was a nice opportunity,” Kosterec said.

Martonova likes to travel and thrives outside of her comfort zone. “My favorite part of being here is being able to experience new things,” said Martonova. “We never celebrate Halloween in Slovakia so that will be fun.”

Kosterec said he was looking forward to the American tradition of Homecoming.

The two students will return to Slovakia for Christmas and continue school in Bratislava this spring. While in Minnesota, Kosterec is staying with the Christiansen family and recently went to a Vikings game with them.

“I still don’t completely understand American football, but I really liked the Vikings game because of the atmosphere,” he said.

Martonova is staying with the Lefebvre family this semester. Both of the Lefebvre twins, sophomores Finley and Payton, have only positive things to say about her.

“It’s honestly really fun having Petra living with us,” Finley said. “She’s very empathetic, and it’s very exciting seeing her witness new things.”

Outside of school, Martonova is a dancer. She also has a younger brother back home.Studying here has not only been a great opportunity for Martonova, but she said she has created friendships that she hopes will last a lifetime. Kosterec recently joined the cross country team, which is the closest thing here to a triathlon, a sport he competes in at home. He runs on the JV team, because state rules don’t allow exchange students to play varsity sports. He has won every JV race he has competed in.

“The team is really good,” said Kosterec. “Everyone supports each other, and it’s nice.”

The C.S. Lewis school has partnered with Minnehaha for many years, with Slovak students spending fall semester in Minnesota each year — except during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two schools are very similar in several ways. The C.S. Lewis school’s mission is: “We educate and lead every student to be able to think creatively and critically, to take responsibility for themselves, others, and the world, and to have the ability to create communities in the spirit of Christian biblical values.” Minnehaha students have visited Bratislava as part of Core Formation Experiences (CFE) trips. In March 2019, nine students joined leaders Mike DiNardo and Julie Johnson spent time at the C.S. Lewis school visiting classes and staying with families, while also touring Slovakia and nearby Vienna and Budapest. The next Minnehaha trip to Bratislava is planned for the summer of 2023.

— by Greta Gesick
& Greta Christiansen

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