Delegation from Japan visits Ames High, experiences life in America

It was the morning of September 24, just another Friday–or was it? As the majority of Ames High went about with their daily ho-hum routines, a few were busy welcoming a group of Japanese middle schoolers from Ames’ sister city, Koshu, a place some 8,000 miles away. The 23 youngsters are from 5 different middle schools in Koshu city (Enzan, Yamato, Katsunuma, Masato and Enzan Kita Junior High Schools) and enjoy doing much of the same things we do: running, listening to music, playing volleyball, basketball, tennis, and ping-pong. One student also cited Kendo, a Japanese form of sword-fighting with padded armor and wooden sticks, as one of his hobbies. From 1st through 4th period, volunteers from NHS, the WEB staff, Yearbook Staff and the 2008 Ames/Japan delegation gave tours and presentations, showing a bit of what life is like east of the Pacific. After a short presentation on how to make a yearbook, the WEB was able to conduct a mass interview with a bit of help from their accompanying translator. Like us, after living a week away from home, they started getting a little homesick. One of the things they missed was soaking in a soothing hot bath, a daily ritual of relaxation, very unlike our 5 minute get-in-get-out showers. And of course, after eating rice pretty much every day of their 14-15 year old lives, they suddenly noticed how little Americans partake of that starchy staple of their diet. But the discovery of things they enjoyed about America seemed to far outnumber what they missed about Japan; the food (“salsa” said one), shopping for t-shirts and candy, jumping on the trampoline and Silly Bandz were but a few of the novel things they found on their whirlwind, one-week journey. As soon as the interview ended, they were divided into four groups and whisked off to various parts of Ames High for their 47 minute-long tour; 10 minutes each in the Art Department, Athletic Department and Physics and Biology classes. And after that they were given a short break, treated to a musical performance by Mr. Greenlaw and then whisked off again, this time to ISU for another tour. And about 2 hours after ISU, they had to perform for the farewell dinner. And on Sunday, September 26, the delegation returned to Koshu city. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s the end. Sophomores Nick Sauer and Chris Jenks were two members of the Ames Delegation to Japan in 2008 and enjoyed it enough that they were willing to become host families for the Japanese visitors. “It was really fun,” sophomore Nick Sauer said of the experience. “It was like Ames, but instead of corn there’s grapes and peaches. They were a lot like us but there was a language barrier, and traditions like tea and stuff like that.” “They’re very polite for our culture.” said sophomore Chris Jenks. “Anytime I would do anything it would always be, ‘thank you, thank you, thank you!’ And I’d always be like, ‘You don’t need to say it every time.’ But it was pretty cool…” During the interview, one of the students whipped out a small notebook and read, “Please come to Japan someday!” showing the real reason why these exchange programs are held. These kids now have a special bond with their Ames host families and will likely remember their tour of our school for years to come. “Asian people are really awesome,” said Sauer “So you should be nice to them.” And that, is what a cultural exchange is all about.