FLEX program participant from Kazakhstan with her California host sister at Soda Lake Overlook
Aida (left) and host sister Abby at the Soda Lake outlook

Exploring in the Wild West

The whole family drove out to Carrizo Plains National Monument to view the wildflowers, hike a little, and check out Soda Lake. The girls took so many pictures of each other and the scenery. Yellow flowers and beautiful desolate views were abounding—there are only flowers out there a few weeks of the year. We took the long way home through Cholame/Shandon and had dinner at historic Jack Ranch Cafe (James Dean memorial). Aida is kind of obsessed with celebrities (even old ones), so she thought that was cool to check out the whole James Dean story.

I will truly miss her funniness and cheerful “yes” attitude regarding helping out as a family member, plus silly things like her fear of the rooster, her quiet voice that we've been teaching her to raise, her evolving relationship with Abby, and our deep life talks.

—Stephanie Edwards (CA), host mom of Aida (FLEX, Kazakhstan)