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Change program immerses Japanese pupil in Durango tradition – The Durango Herald

Animas Excessive Faculty hosts two to 3 international college students annually

Aoi Yamagishi, proper, sits subsequent to his host brother, Tucker Owens, as Tucker’s mom, Lisa Owens, helps the Animas Excessive Faculty college students with their homework on Wednesday at their La Plata County residence. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

For Durango resident and single mother Lisa Owens, elevating a toddler has been probably the most fulfilling a part of her life. When the chance arose to open her arms to a different baby and be a bunch mother to a visiting change pupil from one other nation, she took it.

4 years in the past, she welcomed a toddler from Japan into her residence named Aoi Yamagishi, solely 12 years previous on the time. This 12 months, Aoi got here again, now 16 and desirous to sort out all that comes with attending an American highschool.

Aoi is a part of the Lex-Hippo Household Membership, a Japanese-based institute that sends younger kids to dwell from a number of weeks to a 12 months in different international locations to develop into totally immersed of their language. Aoi has been a member of Lex-Hippo for 5 years and mentioned many kids be part of the group to study a number of of the 22 languages ​​taught within the lecture rooms.

Lex-Hippo works with many change packages just like the States’ 4-H Worldwide Change Applications, a nonprofit that has been in service for 50 years and has labored with greater than 63,000 youths in 43 international locations since 1972.

In 2018, States’ 4-H Worldwide despatched out flyers to Durango mother and father hoping to generate curiosity in being a bunch household to an change pupil, and Owens jumped on the probability.

“I believed, ‘Why not?’” Owens mentioned. “I wished to make a distinction.”

The 12-year-old Japanese boy she welcomed into her residence, nevertheless, didn’t converse a phrase of English.

“I wasn’t anticipating that,” Owens mentioned. “It was exhausting.”

“I did not perceive a factor for the primary couple of weeks,” Aoi mentioned.

“There was numerous hand gesturing,” Owens’ 14-year-old son, Tucker, mentioned. “Numerous pointing at issues.”

“I used to be doing numerous guessing again then,” Aoi mentioned. “I’d attempt to learn folks. Guess what they wished or had been saying, however then I simply began to select issues up right here and there.”

Aoi stayed for 4 weeks throughout his preliminary go to to the USA, after which realized he wished to come back again.

“I dwell in Tokyo, in a metropolis,” he mentioned, “however I favored being within the nation (Durango).”

At 16 years previous, Aoi determined to return for his total junior 12 months to dwell together with his former host household.

“I believe I missed my cooking,” Owens mentioned with a wink.

Lisa Owens fixes lunches Wednesday for her son, Tucker Owens, left, and international change pupil Aoi Yamagishi, as they do their homework. It’s the second time the Owenses have hosted Aoi. Lisa Owens joked that he got here again from Japan for her cooking of her. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Apart from Owens’ cooking, the stark distinction between Animas Excessive Faculty, a public constitution with a project-based curriculum that has two to 3 change college students yearly, and the sort of faculty Aoi attends in Tokyo is another excuse he had for crossing the ocean and spending a faculty 12 months within the US

“We went rafting my first day of college,” he mentioned with a smile. “I really feel extra equal right here. They provide you alternatives to debate issues. To state your opinions. It is a good faculty. In Japanese faculties, there is not a lot dialogue. There’s a one-way lesson. Once they train English, it is simply studying and writing. You do not get to talk it.”

“Aoi has simply jumped proper in with every little thing we provide right here,” mentioned Libby Cowles, AHS’s dean of enrollment and assistant head of college. “He is been very constructive.”

Different cultural variations Aoi has famous whereas attending AHS are the variations in American college students’ lunches versus Japanese college students’, the truth that college students are allowed to snack and drink water in a classroom and with the ability to use the restroom when they should go.

“You can’t go to the toilet in Japanese classroom,” he mentioned with a shake of his head. “You must wait till class is over.”

Whether or not Aoi decides to complete his postsecondary education within the US or keep in Japan as soon as his junior 12 months is over, he is aware of he needs to enter some sort of a nature-based structure very completely different from the Tokyo constructing constructions he’s used to. He’s additionally involved in worldwide relations and a job that permits him to maintain touring all over the world. Oh, and perhaps climb Mount Kilimanjaro together with his host household some day.

“All of us wish to go to Africa collectively,” Tucker mentioned. “It could be a lot enjoyable!”

Tucker Owens and Aoi Yamagishi are all smiles sitting subsequent to 1 one other at Animas Excessive Faculty. The 2 plan to go on an African journey collectively within the close to future. (Megan Okay. Olsen/Durango Herald)

Aoi Yamagishi sits subsequent to his host brother, Tucker Owens, in an Animas Excessive Faculty classroom. (Megan Okay. Olsen/Durango Herald)

Following the strict guidelines of the Lex-Hippo program, Aoi isn’t allowed to have any contact together with his household in Japan in the course of the length of his keep in Durango. Although Owens believes such a coverage to be too strict, Aoi understands Lex-Hippo’s means of working.

“When I’m right here, I’ve to be right here totally,” he mentioned. “I miss my household, however I’ve a household right here. I like simply speaking with them (host household). It isn’t particular, nevertheless it’s good for me.”

Aoi is simply as keen on the US as he’s of his host household.

“I dwell in Tokyo my entire life,” he mentioned. “It’s extremely completely different. America is an efficient nation. It’s extremely free.”

Owens then emphasised that extra Durango mother and father, and extra People, ought to contemplate the potential of being a bunch household for an change pupil, even when there isn’t a financial incentive.

“Open your property and open your coronary heart,” she mentioned. “Dive in. Be open and accepting. I really feel like I am making a distinction in Aoi’s life from her, and that makes all of it price it. ”

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An earlier model of this story misstated Tucker Owen’s age. He’s 14 years previous, not 16.

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