County friend returns for a visit


Betty Dean, Carlos Rojas and Ronald Dean catch up after 33 years of being separated. Rojas was a foreign exchange student through the American Field Service who came to Fayette County in 1981.

A Fayette County couple was recently visited by an old friend, a meeting over three decades in the making.

Carlos Rojas, from Costa Rica, visited Fayette County in 1981 through what was known as the American Field Service (now known as AFS-USA). According to, AFS-USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been a leader in intercultural learning and offers international exchange programs in more than 40 countries around the world through independent, nonprofit AFS organizations, each with a network of volunteers, a professionally staffed office, and headed up by a volunteer board.

Through the local AFS chapter, Rojas had been placed under the guidance and care of Ronald and Betty Dean who lived near New Holland at the time on a farm. Rojas came to America and attended Miami Trace High School as a senior while under the care of the Deans.

“I graduated from school here and then left Fayette County in 1982,” Rojas said. “Ever since I left I worked and became a dental ceramist. I have a place where we make crowns and bridges, Dental Precision. I also have a family now who came with me to see my family here in Fayette County.”

Rojas came back to the county while on a trip to see his daughter graduate from the University of Kentucky this week. He, along with his wife and mother-in-law, visited the Deans and caught up with his Fayette County siblings and parents after not seeing each other for 33 years.

“It is like having someone bring me a million dollars on a platter. We couldn’t be happier to see him after all of these years,” Betty said during an interview Thursday. “He is one of our children and it feels as though he has been long lost for all of these years. Three of our children were there to see him and I know they really loved to talk to him after all of this time. It was like a family reunion.”

Rojas owns a farm in Naranjo, Costa Rica where he also grows and sells ornamental plants. He is humble about the farm he owns and said he enjoys it as a hobby. He said it was nothing like the Deans’ farm where he used to live.

“We are going to New Holland to check out the farm where we used to live and all of us know how much things have changed since then,” Betty said. “After he leaves to go back to Costa Rica we will try and keep in contact with him. They are setting up Skype for us so we can talk to him. We are just so excited to see Carlos again.”

Rojas will be returning to Costa Rica soon to continue working at Dental Precision and on his farm. He said he was really happy to come back and visit the county again and also said he hopes to bring Ronald and Betty on a trip to Costa Rica in the future so they can experience his life back home.

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