Sofie Flaskova is Livin’ the Dream
Miramonte High School’s stellar collection of students just got a little brighter. Sofie Flaskova, a charming Czech exchange student with the Orinda-Tabor Sister City program, has embraced California culture with a passion that makes college football superfans appear comatose. Her delight and enthusiasm for her American semester abroad is positively contagious, a word we don’t like to use too much these days, yet fully accurate.
Although Sofie has traveled to other countries in Europe, when arriving in the United States for the first time on Aug. 2, the almost 17-year-old got swept away by the wow-factor and magnetism of California. No stranger to social media and pop culture, “I had seen American movies, but living the American Dream is even better,” she shared. A natural born athlete, after her first day of surfing at Stinson Beach, she thought, “This is too good to be true.”
With her optimistic, outgoing personality and keen sense of adventure, Sofie had long harbored a desire to study abroad in the United States. Countless other Czech students shared her same ambitions, and initially she felt discouraged, thinking the odds of her application being selected from among thousands were not in her favor.
Quite by accident, she learned of the Orinda Tabor Sister City connection and through this, her dream became a reality. It should be noted, however, that dreams don’t come true without effort. During quarantine, rather than playing video games or squandering her time, Sofie stayed focused on her studies, watched tutorial videos and routinely polished her command of the English language. During this bleak and confusing time, she had no promise that any of her efforts would yield rewards, but she never lost focus.
“Focused” is an excellent adjective to describe Sofie. A gymnast since age four, she also plays tennis and has dabbled in pole-vaulting. She lives in Planá nad Lužnicí, a town in Tábor District in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, so riding the four horses her family keeps nearby is also a favored pastime. Back in Czechia, she divides her time between her mother’s home and her father’s, and has an adoring three-year-old brother named Marcus, who has grown noticeably in between every FaceTime call home! Even though technology makes it easy to stay in touch and ward away homesickness, Sofie thoughtfully procured traditional postcards of San Francisco scenes to mail to her family.
Sofie’s host parents are Petra Tang and LJ D’Iorio of Moraga, and she is thriving in Miramonte’s demanding academic environment. She enjoys all of her classes, but if pressed for a favorite, she loves reading and discussing the American classic novels in her English II class.
She also enjoys the way American classrooms often work together in groups to complete assignments. “The learning style here is completely different,” she observed, “and I love it!” She is in awe of all the “extras” that Miramonte provides, like the student wellness center and academic counseling. And don’t even get her started on the sports and the school spirit. “The first week I thought, wow, all the rallies, everything was just for the beginning of school, but no, there is something new every week!”
Sports in Czechia are not tied to schools, so to Sofie the Matador experience is yet another dream come true. She immediately joined the cheer squad and has already “wowed the crowd” with her impressive tumbling abilities. Her classmates have been very welcoming. She joined four new student organizations during Club Week. “I’m not sure if one is really a club, but I’m still interested,” she laughed. “It’s called the Costco Club.”
Yes, Sofie, you’ll need to experience many things while in California and Costco should definitely be one of them.
Mimi Bommarito has lived in Orinda for 15 years, yet never knew how super cool Orinda’s sister city, Tabor, south of Prague in the Czech Republic, actually is until she Googled it preparing for this interview.
Mimi Bommarito can be reached at email@example.com.