Not only are my parents learning about their cultures, such as when Ami and Yang make a meal for them or share their good luck charms, but these three are learning much from their time in Kansas.
Courtesy photo From left: Ami, Yuki and Yang relaxing for the day.
After the game, I talked to my mom with my back to the court, and I suddenly felt someone's arms wrapped around me. "It's big sister! My big sister came to my game!" Yang said as she hugged me. "I'm so glad you came to my game," she said with a smile.
I couldn't help but feel her warmth and friendliness, and was so happy that I was there. We all then went out for ice cream. The students wanted to know about Alaska - how cold, how far away, what animals lived there. They asked me what certain words meant and, in my own silly fashion, I acted them out so they would know how they were used in everyday life. It didn't matter that they were from another country - we were experiencing other cultures right there in my parents' Suburban.
I can't imagine how different living on the rural prairie of the High Plains is from living in urban China or Brazil. It's just not something I can grasp, yet these wonderful students have made the most of it and are finding the feeling of home in new friends.
These students came to the country to pursue athletic scholarships, but I have a feeling they will take away more from their experiences than knowledge from classes. My family once hosted a student from New Zealand for nine months, and it was a positive experience that will forever impact everyone involved.
Students from Juneau get this experience each year as part of the Rotary Club of Juneau Glacier Valley's youth exchange program. Every year a student from the Juneau area is chosen to attend school in another country. Other exchange opportunities are available as well. So take a moment to get to know those visiting. You might find that you have more in common than you thought at first.
Amanda Gragert is editorof Capital City Weekly.You can contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.