Bordering on sisters

Juniors Mane Yeganyan and Yue "Maggie" Zuo living together under the FLEX program

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Photo by Madeline Parish

Juniors Mane Yeganyan and Yue "Maggie" Zuo

 

Nearly 7,000 miles away in Armenia, one girl would be doing morning chores with her family. Another 500 miles away in China, the other girl would be eating breakfast, studying one last time for exams.

Now, the two girls are together, sharing a sink and bumping elbows while brushing their teeth.

Juniors Mane Yeganyan and Yue “Maggie” Zuo are foreign exchange students in the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program who moved to the United States a month ago. Both are first-time visitors to the country, and now they are sharing the same host home.

“The United States differs a lot from Armenia,” Yeganyan said. “But it’s just different— not better or worse.”

While Yeganyan hasn’t found too many differences between Armenia and the U.S., Zuo has made some stark contrasts between the U.S. and China.

“The United States is an active country,” Zuo said. “People here are friendly and helpful.”

They are both staying with the Williams family, who have previously hosted many students who attended Texas High.

“My host parents are the best,” Yeganyan said. “I really feel love and care in their house. They are always ready to help me, and always do their best to make Maggie and me happy. There are some new things for me, like living with cats and dogs. I like these changes in my life.”

The two girls knew very little about each other, even though they would be living together all school year.

“Before I moved here, I only knew Mane’s name and where she was from,” Zuo said. “But I feel comfortable with her.”

Zuo arrived in America a few days after Yeganyan, and the two have been experiencing it all together.

“I liked Maggie,” Yeganyan said. “I met her for the first time in the airport and she has been very kind to me.”

Already, in the first month of school, the girls have found certain organizations and school functions that peak their interests.

“My volleyball class is fun,” Zuo said. “I’m not very good, but I still like it.”

Along with athletic classes, Yeganyan and Zuo have also been active in student council. They’ve dressed up for most of the spirit days and have attended every meeting so far.

“I like student council kids very much,” Yeganyan said. “Also, the spirit of this school is great. I like it here.”

With eight months left to go as American students, Yeganyan and Zuo have a whole new world to explore. With a trip to the Florida beaches on their calendar, they look forward to what the United States has to offer. And most of all, they look forward to experiencing it together.

“With different cultures, there are things we do in different ways,” Yeganyan said. “We both have things to learn from each other, and we will always share this experience.”