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The Byrd family is not afraid of change.
After moving to Carrollton in July from Utah, Darren Byrd said his wife, Jennifer, began conducting research in August on how to become a host family for international students. Following an application process, background check and interview, Nina Kundic-Filcic arrived from Croatia on Sept. 1.
While it was a quick decision, Byrd said they wanted their children to experience and learn about a different culture. “I think it’s been great,” he said. “I like talking to her. I like finding out little things about her country. I just love listening to her perspective on things.” The Byrds have four children: Taylor, 15; Darrien, 11; Mason, 9; and KayLee, 7.
Byrd said he came to Carrollton to look at a possible history teaching job. He had just graduated from college after working 14 years full-time for the National Guard. While Byrd did not get the job, they liked the area and found a house. Jennifer got a nursing job in Louisville, and he began substitute teaching.
Over Christmas break, Kundic-Filcic and Taylor visited the Byrd family back in Utah. There, Kundic-Filcic had the opportunity to ski, which was on her list of things she wanted to do while in the United States.
Also on her list of things to do was to attend an American football game, a sport she had never seen played before. Byrd took her to her first game, Carroll County at Ludlow High School in September. However, he said she was not initially very receptive and got bored because she didn’t understand the rules. After going to a few more games during the season, Kundic-Filcic said she finally has a little bit better of an understanding. “I’m not a fan of football, but it’s OK,” she said.
However, she does like tennis and will be playing on the high school team in the spring. Kundic-Filcic said there are no organized sports at the schools in Croatia. Students wanting to play a sport must pay for private lessons after completing their homework.
Kundic-Filcic said she and the Byrds go to the movies and to the mall in Louisville for entertainment. “We play Wii. We went sledding when it was snowing,” she said.
Byrd said Kundic-Filcic does not know a lot of history about her country, but they have talked about the culture and every day life, including the culinary differences between the two countries. He said she hates tomatoes and ketchup and does not like the American version of Italian food. She is also not used to eating out as often as Americans do. At home, Kundic-Filcic said her mother and grandmother cook every night, and her family only eats out about once a month.
Byrd said they would be a host family again and that it has been a very beneficial experience for his children. “I think it’s shown them that not everyone lives the same way as them. … We just want to broaden our kids’ view of the world.”