They are typical teenage girls - they like rock and country music, clothes, boys and remember fairy tales like Cinderella with fondness.
This group of girls, ages 16 and 17, like to giggle and visit and have fun. They listen to the radio and watch television. They think women can do whatever they like in today's world. Only they like Soviet boys more than American boys because, as they explained, the Soviet boys are "more serious."But maybe that's natural, because the girls are Soviets also - six Soviet girls who dreamed of visiting America. Their visit to Nephi became a reality because Juab High School officials refused to let go of that dream.
The girls arrived at the Salt Lake airport March 25 and will leave April 11. In early March it looked like the visit would have to be postponed until next year. Soviet airline officials said they could not accommodate the group since they had not made reservations a year in advance. Rather than see the students disappointed, Loreta Whicker of Juab High made other arrangements to fly the students from Finland to Nephi. However, that increased the cost from $300 to $1,100 per student.
The arrangements were that the schools would see to it that the students made it to the country, and then host families would feed and care for the students.
"Thanks to contributors," said Whicker, "we have raised a great deal of the money but still have some to raise. It would have been a shame to let the Moldavian students miss out on their visit. I couldn't let that happen."
Last October seven students from Nephi traveled to Moldavia and lived with the families of the students who are now living in their homes. The Moldavian students said having already made friends with their hosts made it easier to come to America.
The six, Natasha Rotaru, Iadwiga Swentskaia, Olga Barakova, Anna Ogurtsova, Julya Donos and Eveline Vainberg, all attend the school, Lyceum, in Moldavia.
The English they speak is a little different, however, than the language spoken in Nephi. The language they learned was British and adjusting to the American dialect and the rapid pace of American speech has been a challenge.
And in spite of the things they learned about Utah and Nephi from their student visitors last fall, the Soviet students did have some surprises, said Donos. "I expected a big town and more transport. We thought it (Nephi) would be more industrial.
"We call big cities towns. When people are busy with agriculture we call those places villages," she said.
Kishnev, they said, has about 800,000 people and lots of public transportation.
All of the students agreed they liked Nephi and the rural atmosphere. They especially enjoyed a visit to a local dairy farm owned by Randy Greenhalgh.
The girls, who are city dwellers, fed and milked a few cows, fed calves from nursing bottles, made strawberry ice cream and talked about soil conditions and farming procedures.
The girls also visited IPP, Brush-Wellman and Ashgrove Cement. Each of the places gave them caps, as did the Nephi City Council. "It was a four hat day," said Rotaru.
"My father works in a cement plant," said Vainberg, whose father is an engineer. "So I was interested to see how an American plant works."
All the girls' mothers work, and all the girls expect to go on to college next year.
About a week after they return to Moldavia they will take final form exams. They must do well on those exams to attend a university. Three to five students apply to attend a institute or university for every position available.