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The Packer Weekly: Zeyse becomes accustomed to American culture

By Jessica Qian

After living in Germany his whole life and six years of learning English, junior Simeon Zeyse decided to transfer to West Fargo High School for the school year to experience America and learn more about the language. Zeyse has liked his first time in America, improving his English and experiencing a few firsts at school as well as home.

“My favorite part is having not so much stress in school,” Zeyse said. “Welding and PLTW Civil Engineering are my both favorite subjects because it’s something new. We don’t have such classes in Germany.”

West Fargo residents Betty and Carl Tengeseal have taken Zeyse and a Polish Foreign Exchange student, senior Szymon Zmyślony in for the school year and have become their host family. They have had people stay in their home in the past. “I guess it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Betty said. “My husband and I both kind of feel we have to give some hospitality. We have a large enough house that we can have lots of people over.”

The Tengeseals have enjoyed having Zeyse in their home and Betty said he has basically become part of the family. With the Tengeseals, Zeyse has experienced a few more firsts, such as welding and shooting at a target range.

“My husband’s a welder so we have a welding machine here and so they like to weld,” Betty said. “He’s so easy going. He is very easy to get along with, really helpful around the house and courteous, just a nice presence in the house. We just kind of acted like he belongs here and he’s just part of us.”

Junior German Club president Toby Kindem was thrilled to have a German student at WFHS. Along with German teacher Lisa Mulvaney, Kindem invited Zeyse to join German Club and welcome him to the school. Zeyse’s first German Club meeting went well and he will continue to attend. He said he enjoys the atmosphere and hearing the language again.

“He is in unknown territory, and so I want him to make as many friends as possible and have a good experience here,” Kindem said. “We get kind of stuck in our ways and we think that we’re the only culture when there really are more cultures.”

Spanish teacher and foreign exchange student adviser Ryan Mayer has been especially welcoming to Zeyse in the new school environment. He has helped Zeyse get used to American customs and with issues at school or home. Mayer has met with Zeyse every week since school started and can already see him growing.

“I think that he is nervous because he’s in a new place but I think from the time that I met him in the beginning of the year until now, you can just see it’s a different step,” Mayer said.

Mayer had gone to Spain for seven months in college and he can relate to how Zeyse might feel in a completely new country. Though Mayer said that experiencing a new country was amazing, there were also barriers to overcome.

“Even though you feel like a foreigner all the time, the cool thing about it is that you come up with different ways to work in with the people, so you try things you never would’ve tried because it was never available to you,” Mayer said. “That’s kind of the way that you melded in with the other culture, you accepted whatever they did and you joined it. Even if it was weird for them to see you accept it and try it, it builds the friendship and you finally start to become accepted.”

Mayer encourages students to step outside their comfort zone and talk to students like Simeon who might need a little remembrance of home, whether it be sitting down and having a conversation or just saying “Hi” in German.

“When you’re sitting down at lunch with you friends, you can see them anytime but how often do you have somebody who is like you, but is different than you, and he’s thinking the same thing,” Mayer said. “Just going and chatting with him and being patient is going to make him feel so at home because he’s like part of the group.”