Lifestyle

Mount Si students connect with Japanese counterparts

Japanese and Mount Si students enjoy one of their last days together before the exchange students returned home to Wakayama, Japan. - Dan Catchpole / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Japanese and Mount Si students enjoy one of their last days together before the exchange students returned home to Wakayama, Japan.
— image credit: Dan Catchpole / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The dozens of students gathered in Mount Si High School’s auditorium knew they only had a few more hours with their friends. In less than two days the 19 exchange students from Japan would get on a plane bound for home. But that didn’t stifle the laughter or smiles as they played games and signed T-shirts to commemorate the trip.

“I’ve learned so much just from having conversations with them,” said Kirstie Scalise, a junior at Mount Si.

For 15 years, Naga High School, in Wakayama, Japan, has been sending students to Snoqualmie Valley and other nearby school districts. More than 70 students participated this year. The Valley sends students every other year.

The program gives students a chance to learn about another culture firsthand and develop their language skills. While here, the Japanese students stay with families in the Valley and attend classes with Mount Si students.

“Now I want to stay here,” said Natsumi Yamamoto, a freshman from Naga High School.

While here, she introduced her host family to miso soup and yakisoba, a noodle dish, and visited Seattle with her classmates and Mount Si students.

The trip gives students “a better understanding of the cultural differences,” said Jinto Yeasuteru, a math teacher at Naga High School, through a translator.

The experience deeply affects students from both schools.

“When I see my students faces when they’re about to leave, and they’re crying, that’s when I realize I’m so glad I did this,” Yeasuteru said.

For more information about hosting for next year’s exchange, e-mail Sudeshna Sen at sens@svsd410.org.

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