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Exchange student finds lifelong friends, memories in Dawsonville
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Vita Govorkova smiles before racing at the Track and Field Region Championship earlier this year. Govorkova, an exchange student from Russia, made some of her strongest friendships on the DCHS team. - photo by Rio White

During the past school year, exchange student Vita Govorkova experienced life in the United States for the first time, staying in Dawsonville with the Wadsworth family and attending DCHS.

While she was a world away from her home country Russia, she reflected on her time here in Dawsonville as positive and giving her a new perspective on life.

One of the most important aspects of her time here was her participation on the track and field team — a group that she said welcomed her with open arms

“We were like a family,” Govorkova said. “We are so close and always support each other and that is something I really like. Coach Haynes, Pruett and all of the coaches did a lot to have this family [culture].”

Govorkova was also heavily involved in track and field back in Russia, but mentioned that her athletic endeavors often felt more individual and much less social than the atmosphere created by the Tigers.

In addition to the differences she witnessed on an athletic level, Govorkova also described how high school contrasted between her home and host country. 

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Govorkova runs during a track meet earlier this season. - photo by Rio White

Academically, she said that the level of intensity involved in course work was higher in Russia due to the relatively linear and uniform academic approach used by the country’s education system.

“I was much more stressed out at home…I had about 15 subjects,” Govorkova said. “But also, now it is easier for me to study [in America] having had the harder time in Russia.”

With a greater degree of individual education paths offered in the United States, she noticed that her own workload decreased but that each student seemed to have their own amount to complete.

Socially, she saw significant differences between how students communicate with each other. 

One one hand, certain ideas of American teenagers — as portrayed by television and film — are not necessarily the case. She found that the concepts of cliques and strict social classes were not present at DCHS. 

“I would say that everyone was so nice,” Govorkova said. “I like people here…it just feels like home.”

On the other hand, she said that most students in Russia keep one set of close friends while many American high schoolers have a combination of close and peripheral friends. 

Because of this, she witnessed the often indirect way American teenagers communicate, contrasting to the blunt nature of Russian conversations. 

Despite the vastly different social environments, Govorkova found people at DCHS who would have an imprint on her life.

Many of these people came from athletics, specifically the track and field team.

While she was able to meet the many members of the team throughout the season, her most cherished moments were with those she got to know on the long bus rides to the Region Championship and State Sectionals. 

“I think State was one of the best [experiences] because we had so much time,” Govorkova said. “We were so close because we were always together and supporting each other. We got to know each other…and now I have friends from the track team and we hang out.”

In fact, her bond with the track team grew so much that Coach Pruett wants to bring some of the team to visit Govorkova at her next stop in Arkansas.

That level of friendship and dedication is something she said was unexpected, yet all the more amazing.

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Govorkova stands with friends during the Senior Day recognition. - photo by Rio White

Aside from her life at school, she was also able to travel to many parts of the United States with her host family. 

She had her first snow-less New Year in Miami, traveled to Las Vegas, saw the Grand Canyon and went to a concert in Nashville. 

“One of the best parts [of my stay] was traveling a lot,” Govorkova said. “Even if it's just a couple days, it’s just amazing emotions with so much energy and adrenaline.”

Overall, Govorkova’s time in Dawsonville will be remembered both by her and the many friends she made along the way. 

While she has now left to stay in Arkansas for the summer, she has become a Tiger for life, wherever the future may lead her.