WESTVILLE, Fla (BNc) — Ondrej Hubalek, 18, of Lukavice, Czech Republic was 16 years old when he decided to become an exchange student to the United States. He said kids start learning English in the third grade in his country, and he wanted to learn it better. He also wanted to learn the culture and experience what it is like to live in the United States.
Ondrej, or Andrew as he is known, was paired with Donald and Sherri Campbell in Deatsville, Ala. He said, “They were one of the best families I could have.” Donald Campbell preached at the Hunter Hills church, Prattville. The Campbells have a son who was a senior, and three daughters.
Ondrej said his desire for his family to meet his exchange parents prompted him to come back for a visit this week. He brought his mother, father, and brother with him. Even though his father spoke very little English, and mother none, he said, “I wanted them to meet the family who gave their all and didn’t want anything back, who were so good to me.”
Don and Sherri Campbell along with Sherri’s parents, Gary and Sherron Galloway, honored the Hubalek family with a cookout complete with patriotic theme in their large barn near Westville, FL. Approximately 60 people attended and welcomed the Hubalek family to the U.S.
A Catholic, Ondrej said he got “a new point of view in my relationship with God and Christianity. It changed me spiritually and brought me closer to God.” When asked what he thought about the church of Christ, he said it was more about community, family style, and knowing each other better. He said it is more about God than the “order” he knew in the Catholic Church, where there are lots of “rules and stuff.”
Ondrej was shocked at the size of everything in the U.S. He mentioned cars, houses, chips, drinks, the country as all being huge. He found it amazing that people here walk up to anybody and start talking to them. He said, “There are no boundaries. The hospitality is really amazing.”
Having played baseball since a small boy, Ondrej said it was everybody’s dream to play ball in the United States. He got that opportunity while living here for his junior year in school.
When asked what he took back home from his experience in America, he said the language had been helpful; the experience made him more independent; different mentality after meeting different people; and mentioned elbows on the table are not good etiquette.
Asked if he would like to come back to the U.S. to attend college, Ondrej said he wouldn’t want to come back for college. He plans to become a doctor and said it takes six years in his country and eight here. But wisdom abounded when he added that during those years he would be selecting a life partner most likely, and he wouldn’t think it fair to a girl from the U.S. to marry him, since he wants to go back to his country and be near his family.
Ondrej said, “You Americans, especially in the South, are very nice. I’m glad I got to spend a year here in Alabama. I enjoyed it, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you.”
We thank you, Ondrej!