When Amina Jugo moved with her family to the United States from Mostar, Bosnia, seven years ago, she met another Bosnian youngster, Azra Hosic, who talked her into playing club volleyball. Now Jugo, 5 feet 7, is a strong outside hitter for the Bluebirds. A 17-year-old senior, she is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program at Kenwood and has a 3.6 grade-point average. She is active in the National Honor Society and has been involved with the literary magazine and the Model United Nations. Interested in languages, she plans to attend college nearby so she can remain close with her family: mother, Jasmina; sister Ajla, who also plays for Kenwood; and brother Maid, 11. She remains in close contact with her many relatives in Bosnia.
Did you play volleyball in Bosnia?
No. I actually didn't start until I was here.
How did you get started playing?
Azra said, "You should really come with me." I was like, "But I don't know how to play." She said, "You'll learn. It's really easy," so I decided to go to Time Out volleyball club and try out and I made it. She actually had played in Bosnia before, but I didn't know that.
Did you play any sports back home?
I used to run when I was a little kid. I used to love running. Now I hate it (laughs). I was in races for little kids.
What is it that you really like about volleyball?
I love the feeling, just the feeling of going in and hitting. I don't know how to explain the feeling. When you get a kill and you slam it to the floor, it's like, "I can't believe I jumped that high," or if it hits a girl in the face, you're like, "Oh, my God, I'm so sorry," but then you're like, "Yes. I hit it."
What was the most difficult thing about the transition to the United States?
It was very difficult trying to move away from our whole family, because the whole [extended] family lives in Bosnia. It was difficult not to be able to talk to them in person. On your birthdays, not a lot of people come, because you wouldn't know a lot of Americans. You would feel kind of left out. Other kids would have birthday parties, but you couldn't do that, because your family's not here.
What was the hardest thing to get used to when you moved here?
The language. Sometimes, when I take tests, I don't understand a word and I would have to ask the teacher. I hate that so much, because I want to know stuff like everybody else.
Do you feel more like everyone else now?
Yeah. I feel more part of it, even though sometimes I still don't know things. Sometimes, if they go out with their friends, I'm still like, "I'm not used to that." I want to stay home. But I do go out with friends to the movies and to White Marsh [Mall].
What do you like most about the United States?
I like the people and the job opportunities, too, because it helps my family. And the education. There's many different colleges you can choose from and over there it's maybe like one major one.
What are you thinking about as a career?
Translator. I was thinking maybe government or organizations that are like social services that need people to translate for immigrants or something like that.
What is the International Baccalaureate? Different kids from different countries get together - or just Americans - and they learn about different countries, their issues, how to resolve them, different languages, different authors from different countries. Shakespeare, of course. It's much harder, kind of like college level.
Why are you so intrigued by languages?
Ever since I've been little, I've loved it, the sound of different languages. Whether they sound weird or pretty. Different words mean so many different things. You can never translate a whole sentence the exact way. I've tried. There's always a word that you have to switch around.
If you had one wish guaranteed to come true, what would you wish for?
I would wish for my dad to be alive. He died in 2006. He had a tumor in his left kidney. I was really close to him. I was more close to him than I was with my mom. He would always come to my games, and he would always be there for me.
What's your most prized possession and why?
My family. Nobody has a family like mine. We love each other so much. I think I would do anything for my family. My brother, my sister and my mom - she does so many things for us. She even moved here just to get us a good education and allow us to be better people and get better jobs. And my dad, of course, too.