Exchange students share world views

SNOQUALMIE — For an entire school year, Mount Si High

students will be able to meet and learn from three ambassadors from foreign


Cristy Lopez, 17, of Honduras, senior Sasha Meshkova of Russia

and 16-year-old Lorenz Frankenschmidt of Germany have all traveled to

the Snoqualmie Valley as exchange students to Mount Si High.

Each day the adventurous teens are faced with new challenges,

whether it's getting over homesickness, adapting to the American school system

or finding their way around the mammoth campus.

"The first time I looked at the map of Mount Si I said, `Aagh!'"

recalled Lopez, while the other two students nodded and laughed in agreement.

In Honduras, Lopez said, the students only need to know where

one classroom is located and it was the teachers who rotated through the

different classes.

Meshkova explained that Russian students, like their American

counterparts, change classrooms but not their peers. From kindergarten

through graduation the students learn and grow with the same group of students.

"It unites people and makes them friends for life," Meshkova said.

Frankenschmidt said a remarkable difference between schools here

and in Germany is the amount of restrictions placed on American students.

For example, he said, German students aren't forced to be in their

classrooms all the time.

"As long as I get an `A' in math class, I don't need to be there," he said.

"If you're responsible and you want the education, you'll go to

class," Meshkova added.

But the schools in Honduras aren't as lenient as those in Germany or


"They don't let you go out from school," Lopez said. "If they

catch you, they take you to the principal."

School is only a portion of the American experience that these

exchange students are learning. Each teen lives with a host family from

the community who adopts them for the school year. Meshkova is staying

with Doug and Kimberly McConkey, Lopez is with Dan Thompson

and Frankenschmidt is paired with John and Liz Barry.

For Meshkova and Frankenschmidt, Washington is a

perfect match since they like the rain and snow. Lopez, however, said she

misses the warmth of the sun that she grew up under.

While here, the three students said they will try snow boarding at the

Pass, sightseeing around town, and, of course, shopping.

"There's so many things to do," Meshkova admitted. "I'll try

something new as long as I have good company."

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