By Tressa McIff
For ten days, a group of exchange students is visiting Olathe Northwest from our sister school in Japan.
This experience allows them to experience American culture and sharpen their developing English skills, while also giving ONW students a chance to support their journey and learn all about Japanese culture.
Many ONW students, both in Japanese classes and not, are hosting these exchange students and learning all about the Japanese language and culture. “Instead of you just teaching them all the time, you’re going to learn a lot from them just by watching them, and they might now even know it,” said Madi Dalrimple, an ONW junior hosting Kotomi, a Japanese exchange student.
While the ONW students are broadening their knowledge, this is even more true for the exchange students. Since they are immersed in American culture for the first time, they are having dozens of new experiences.
The group of exchange students has gone on multiple fun field trips to places such as Skate City, the WWI Museum, and Mahaffie Farm. However, they don’t even need to travel away from the school or their host homes to learn new things and notice differences between American and Japanese cultures. “American food is very big,” Kotomi noticed.
Overall, they have loved all the experiences they have had and the people they have met. “My American friends are very friendly. People from here, they laugh loudly and are very expressive and use hands,” Kotomi said.
Sadly, these exchanges programs are becoming less and less popular in Japan. Between the increasingly low birth rates and partial isolation, Japanese exchange students simply don’t have as much chance or incentive to travel abroad.
Often times, traveling abroad can even make them less employable in traditional Japanese culture. Employers in Japan like to hire impressionable and moldable workers straight from university. Though traveling abroad during high school may not directly affect this as much as doing so during university, it is still a common fear.
Next summer, ONW students will have the opportunity to visit Japan and learn even more about the language and culture. Hopefully, they will enjoy their experience as much as the Japanese students have enjoyed America.