Months ago, the search began for students to be hosts for the incoming Japanese students from Kashikabi High School who would be arriving at Barrie Central on February 1 for a month-long stay.
Aravis Walters, a grade 12 student, wanted to get involved with the program because she wanted learn more about the Japanese culture and make more friends, as well as volunteer with her friends.
Walters first became aware of this opportunity last year from listening to the announcements. She gathered a group of friends and headed to the guidance office to become official “Japanese buddies.” She had a wonderful experience last year and so she jumped at the chance to do it again this year.
Grade 12 student, Nathan Lui has heard the announcements for the past couple years but never could find the time to help out, so this year he was eager to finally be a part of this program. Lui said, “I just wanted to help out and get involved, when I went to sign up the list was only half-filled, so I knew that it was important that I do this.”
Walter said, “It’s cool because if you make good enough friends, you can go and visit them. I plan on visiting Saya (her buddy from last year), hopefully."
On February 1, the class of wide-eyed Japanese students walked through our halls, excited to learn English and about our culture.
After a week of English and Canada lessons, the Japanese and Canadian buddies finally met. “Then the fun began,” said Walters. From that point on the Japanese students would accompany their Canadian buddy to their two classes.
When asked what their favourite thing about Canada was, both Rikako and Naoki, two Japanese students, said that they loved how friendly and kind all Canadians have been to them.
Rikako said that one of the biggest differences that she has noticed has been our food; she loves our pizza and Tim Horton’s hot chocolate. The one thing that Rikako would like to do before going home to Japan is to do homework for a class. Kaito, another Japanese buddy, said that he would like to try our Japanese food to see how it compares to the real thing.
Lui said that his buddy, Kaito, is unlike any other friend that he has. “I feel that I can learn from him because he learns from me, he is a kind of role model for me. He was catapulted into our culture, and though the transition was quick, he was not scared. He was curious and unafraid to ask questions.”
The Japanese buddies return home on February 28, after a month that has been filled with education, adventure and good times.