Exchange students experience Canadian culture

By Mac Christie

Carpenter High School is playing host to two Japanese exchange students for the 2011-12 school year.

The students, Tomoya Yaji,17, and Mami Kodama, 16, came to Canada on July 23. After spending a month in Prince Albert learning about Canadian culture, they came to Meadow Lake in late August.

Both came to Canada to learn about a different culture, and said it’s a lot different from their homeland. Yaji hails from Utsunomiya, which has a population of over 510,000, while Kodama is from Okayama, home to more than 705,000 people.

Tomoya Yaji

But it’s not only the population which is different, it’s also the landscape.

“In Japan there are many mountains,” said Kodama, “here the view is very different. I like to see the horizon (here).”

Yaji agreed, adding part of the reason he chose to come to Canada was his love of nature and the outdoors.

It’s something he’s been able to indulge in, as a result of his host family, the Marsh’s.

“I went camping,” he said, referring to a trip with Junior Forest Wardens. “It was good. We went canoeing and did a scavenger hunt.”

Mami Kodama

Yaji added once he’s done his exchange, he’ll probably come back to Canada, as a result of the outdoors, adding he likes Meadow Lake’s temperature in the summer.

“It’s not too hot, and not too cold,” he said.

He’s looking forward to the winter too, he added.

“I want to experience the cold,” he said with a laugh. “I’m afraid, too, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Kodama added the coldest it gets in Japan is around the freezing mark.

She added she came to Canada to improve her English, which both her and Yaji studied in Japan.

While they are familiar with the language, both are still working on it. Kodama said reading is difficult for her, while Yaji talking to people is th most difficult for him.

Both Yaji and Kodama are part of the Carpenter High School cross-country team, although neither had competed in the sport before.

Yaji had done track and field, while Kodama did gymnastics in Japan and still helps out with the local gymnastics club once a week.

Although he’s never played hockey, Yaji said he’d like to try it while he’s in Meadow Lake.

“I skate sometimes in Japan,” he said.

Kodama is staying with Tara Million, and enjoys gardening with her, as well as cooking.

While they’ve been in Canada for almost three months, Kodama said she hasn’t missed her family yet.

“I send them emails three times a month,” she said with a laugh.

Part of the reason for that, are the people in town.

“I like the people of Meadow Lake,” she said. “Everyone is very friendly.”

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