AFH Photo // Coliesha Turner
Mathematical puzzles challenge your intellect and can make your brain stronger.

They may seem simple but often force you to think outside the box and beyond.

They help you in the real world because they give you the chance to develop the skill of thinking under pressure.

My brother, Luis M. Sanchez, a high school senior, may be a puzzle-solving prodigy.

He refers to these mind-twisters as IQ-level tests, though he does them for fun.

“In answering a sort of enigmatic problem,” he says, “I get an understanding of the complexity of life and, with it, a great sense of self-completion.”

This summer, for example, he solved  a complex puzzle without even looking  at the instructions, which weren’t needed  because he figured things out correctly  using his own methodology.
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AFH Photo // Kiara Maher
When I get off the plane from Miami, I see the colorful parrots. The vibrant blue waters are crowded with people. I smell the soup that the elders are making. 

I’m back in Honduras, a place my family and I call home. 

Honduras is located in Central America, between Guatemala and Nicaragua. My mother, father, brother, and most of my aunts and uncles were born in my favorite city, La Ceiba, a port on the northern coast. 

The city was named after a giant ceiba tree. The tree was so tall that the first settlers believed it was a ladder God used to visit earth from heaven. 

The city developed in 1872, and the population increased due to the abundance of work harvesting bananas. 

Today, La Ceiba is the third largest city in Honduras. La Ceiba holds some of the best restaurants in the land and I love the dishes there. 

My favorite foods are baleadas, flour tortillas filled with fried beans, sour cream, and white cheese.
Avocados and eggs are optional. You can eat baleadas for breakfast or dinner. 

I also like pasteles, pastries filled with ground beef and rice or potatoes. 

The drink I enjoy most is called horchata. To make horchata, you put rice in water and let it soak overnight. Then, you blend the soaked rice with peanuts; add cinnamon, sugar, and lime; and mix it. This drink is usually made for birthday parties or cookouts in the summer. 

In two days, September 15, it will be  Independence Day in Honduras, so I  thought it was a good time to share a bit of  information about my country.
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AFH Photo // Szu-Chieh Yun
Mariam Camara, 15, from Dorchester, is the only girl out of all her siblings -- a fact she feels all the time.

“I see a huge difference between how my parents treat my brothers vs. how they treat me.’’ says Camara. “Even though I am the oldest, my brothers still get more freedom than I do. I have a curfew and my brother, who is one year younger then me, can come home any time.”

Being a daughter in any household can have its stresses. But being a daughter of African parents, teens say, can be filled with high expectations and low levels of leeway.

“When I started middle school,” says Odia Bah, 17, from South Boston, “my mom gave me and my brothers ‘the birds and the bees’ talk. It wasn’t until after this event that I realized my parents treated my brothers differently from me. My mom told my brothers they could date as long the girl of their choice is respectful. She told me that I wasn’t able to date until I graduated college.”

Fifteen-year-old Mariatou Camara, who goes to school in Dorchester, says many of the household duties fall to her.

“In my culture,” she says, “it was always  said that a girl should be brought one  day take the mother’s place.”
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Jeung Soon Takeda
Miguel Marte, 16, cringes when asked about a brother at home.

Marte definitely feels a sense of sibling hierarchy as he says he finds himself looking after his older brother, who is 17, making sure he gets up in the morning for school and knowing where he is all the time.

“He’s the middle child but he never takes responsibility for anything,” says Marte, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. “He’s older than me yet I have to be the one to watch over him.”

In a stereotypical household, one would expect the oldest sibling to be the most
responsible, the middle child to be mostly ignored, and the youngest one to be babied
to death.

But these days, with scattered work and school schedules, and differing degrees of youth maturity, nothing is typical.

“I have mixed feelings about siblings and being the youngest,” says Joanne Leu, 16, from the O’Bryant.

She doesn’t have many responsibilities, she says, but then her parents can also be overprotective.

McCain Boonma, 16, from the O’Bryant, is an only child, so he doesn’t have to deal with brother-sister status.

“I don’t envy anyone with siblings,” he says. “I like not having to share anything.”

Except those days when he’d liked to share a conversation.

“Being an only child can get a little lonely,”  says Boonma, “especially not having anyone  to talk to.”
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AFH Photo // Cuong Huynh
Anthony Carr, 16, understands the value of having friends at school. They can help keep him on track to crack the books, he says, and also do the right thing.

“They assist you in doing work when you’re confused or don’t understand,” says Carr, from Boston Latin Academy, “and also motivate you to make good decisions at school.”

In a teen’s life, there are neighborhood friends; friends from back in the day; and those friends you see all the time at school.

Yekalo Tesfazion, a junior at BLA, sees the importance of school relationships beyond the basic social aspect and as a way to build future business networks.

“School relationships are important,” says Tesfazion, “because they help with employment opportunities and with connecting with people.”

For Edil Mohamed, a junior at Boston Latin School, school friendships help her
get through those inevitably tough high school moments.

“Your friends at school, especially the  ones that are very close to you,” she says,  “will always have your back and be there  for you, especially during hard times.”
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