North Atlanta Hosts Exchange Students From Japan


Kim Shields

Exchanging Ideas: Sophomore Lucy-Grey Shields and Japanese exchange student Haruna Egami enjoy some sushi and other manner of Japanese cuisine at Buckhead’s Taka restaurant.

A few weeks ago in March, several North Atlanta students had to opportunity to host foreign exchange students from Japan. Even though they were only at North Atlanta for a few days, the hosts got to learn a lot from the students. It was a very new and interesting experience for some, and a great opportunity for both students from Japan and America to get to learn more about each other’s culture.

Sophomore Charlie Beckham was one of the students who got to host a Japanese student. He found the differences between her and himself to be very interesting. Surprisingly, it was the small, mundane differences between them that stood out to him the most. “What I actually found most interesting is that she wasn’t allowed to use a calculator for all of her math work,” he said. “I just thought that it was surprising and kind of funny.”

Even though the Japanese students came to America in order to learn more about American culture, they also ended up teaching a lot about their own culture to their hosts. Sophomore Lucy-Grey Shields was fascinated by some of the things that she learned from her exchange student, Haruna Egami. One of the main things that she remembered was the difference between schools in Japan and school in America. According to Egami, public schools in Japan are more like private schools in America. You have to test into them, since in Japan they think that if you are going to get your education paid for you, you have to be the best of the best. Shields found the differences between schools interesting, but like Beckham, she found the most enjoyment out of small, quirky differences. “I noticed a few cultural differences when I was with her, like how she peeled her grapes, which I thought was funny,” she said.

Shields would gladly host another exchange student given the opportunity.  Although she didn’t get to know Haruna for long, she really enjoyed the short time that they had together. They both got to learn a lot about each other and enjoy different aspects of the other’s culture. “I had so much fun hosting her!” she said. “I would totally recommend hosting exchange students to anyone else.”

 Hosting foreign exchange students is a unique experience that a few lucky North Atlanta students were able to be a part of. Japan has a vastly different culture than America, and while the Japanese students must have had a great time learning about America first hand, their hosts had just as much fun learning about Japanese culture from them. If anyone else should ever get the opportunity to host an exchange student from any country, they should absolutely take it. It will be a valuable learning experience for everyone involved.