Japanese exchange students arrive in Tumbler Ridge

On April 27th, two 16 year old Japanese students arrived in Tumbler Ridge. A boy, Hiroki Tanishita, and girl, Mayu Shibata, were welcomed at the Dawson Creek airport by two hosting families from Tumbler Ridge. The visit, which is expected to last until June, is sponsored by World Youth Services (WYS).

World Youth Services (WYS) is a program which helps children from countries all over the world to travel to a foreign destination to learn new languages and cultures.

Sandy Treit, Tumbler Ridge Senior Secondary (TRSS) Principle, said that once the details have been confirmed by WYS, the students may be here for up to a year. I asked Treit if there was the possibility that some students from our community might have the chance to go to Japan. She said that WYS will be making a presentation at the high school in May and she hopes that it will pique some interest from teens in the community.

The students are mainly here to learn the English language and to experience our culture. Tanashita has been studying the English language since he was seven years old. Shibata has been studying it since she was 12.

Both students were engrossed in math class on May 3rd when I arrived at the high school to interview them. After they had their pictures taken, I was able to ask them about their thoughts on the community, our culture, food, and the students at TRSS.

Tanishita said that he finds the traditions in our country very different than the ones in Japan. He felt that teens here seem to have more freedom than they do in his culture. Shibata said, ?The students in Japan are not allowed to have an iPod in class like the children here are. It is very quiet in the classrooms in Japan.?

Both students agreed that they have been adjusting well with other teens in the high school. They have been hanging out after school with a few of them.

Tanashita commented on the food and said that the calorie content was a lot higher than what they are used to. He said that in Japan, people purchase their food mainly from vendors, which is usually fresh fish, rice, and vegetables. The stores here offer food that?s pre-packaged.

I asked the students if they had a chance to discover the town and surrounding area yet. Tanishita said that the Kostamo?s had tried to take him to Kineuso Falls on the 2nd, but the road had too much snow so the trip was cut short. ?I did get to see a moose though,? he said. Shibata said that she had a chance to discover the stores and parks in town.

When asked if they thought the English here was different that what they were taught in Japan, Tanashita nodded emphatically. He said that the sentence structure they were taught was very basic. ??See the Boy?, is an example,? said Tanashita, ?We are taught very basic sentences.?

The cool temperature in Tumbler Ridge is an adjustment than what both teens came from in Japan. Tanashita said that it was 24 degrees in Tokyo when they left.

Both students were very happy with the families they are staying with. Michelle & Paul Payne, and Brent & Val Kostamo, are the hosting families.

I had a chance to ask Michelle Payne about her experience with Mayu Shibata. She said that Shibata seemed to be adjusting very well, and the family was happy to have her come and enjoy their home.

The hosting families found out about the program when WYS placed and ad in the newspaper about the students? arrival. They had to undergo a mandatory police check and interview.

The chosen families were given a home study which was provided by WYS. Payne said the study describes everything from what the students like to eat to when to expect them to get homesick. ?It is very helpful,? she said. Payne said the program also pays for necessary needs like food and utilities for the students.

I asked Tanashita and Shibata if they felt homesick. They shook their heads ?no? and told me that they were not missing home just yet. They said that the students and people in the community have made them feel very welcome. They both politely thanked me for coming before heading back to class at the end of our interview.

Tumbler Ridge News welcomes Hiroki Tanashita and Mayu Shibata to the community!