Sunday, October 17, 2010

Being a Host Family

Today, my family will be doing something we have never done before: being a host family.
However, I should also include the fact that this particular event is not so typical. First of all, we are only having the student for 3 days. I am guessing that this is not so normal, because I have regularly heard of host families having a foreign exchange student for more than 6 months. Second, the student we will be hosting is my mom’s former student. Not that my mom was some kind of professor; she used to teach Japanese as a tutor to some of the college kids who were interested while we lived in Canada. And third, the “student” coming to live with us isn’t a full-fledged student.
Some of you might be thinking, Okaaaay, how does that work? But really, it isn’t that complicated. The young lady coming to live with us actually lives in Japan right now, working as a high school English teacher while attending a university. And now she’s decided to travel abroad for a short while to study how things are in the US. The cool thing about her too is that she speaks 4 languages: English, Japanese, French, and Cantonese, and maybe a little Mandarin as well. She also has done a lot of volunteer work worldwide. I really look up to her, and I haven’t even met her yet!
I must say, I am eagerly awaiting tonight to meet her and listen to her stories.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


For a high school sophomore girl who moved to the US from Japan roughly 4 years ago, homecoming is a unique experience indeed. The students dress up, get together with his/her date or clique of friends, dine, then drive up to the school to dance...after a football game?
True, football is a big American culture, and adorning dresses you probably will never wear again and dancing in a cafeteria must come as only natural to the American teenager. But for this foreign sophomore girl, it is a different story. I must confess, it has taken me more than a little time to get used to the idea.
First of all, there are no such things as school dances in Japan. At least, no decent high school will allow such a thing, nor will the Japanese teenagers have time to attend it. If a school were to even mention, hint at the possibility of a dance party, the parents and school board would swoop at them instantly, demanding to banish such nonsense thoughts from their mind, and how dare they think of such a thing when their child had to study, did they ever think that it was these kinds of thoughts that lead to a loosely disciplined school?
But let us say that the parents did permit the school to hold a dance party. Then the Japanese high schoolers would be able to dance their hearts out and have fun, right? From what I am seeing, the answer is no. Students in Japan, especially high school students, are known for committing all their time for school work. I am kind of glad I moved to the US when I did, because I got to escape the hell that was the Japanese high school life. Anyways, because the students are so into their studies, I suspect most of the students will not be able to go to a dance party.
Having come from a place like that, I was nervous about wearing a dress. Hell, I was nervous about the homecoming dance, period. But despite my fears, the dance ended up being…well, okay. My friends and I dined at Steak ‘n Shake, strolled around the mall, and danced a bit at the homecoming dance.
So, with my fear of homecoming overcome, and armed with my past experience, I would be okay this week’s homecoming…right?