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Welcome Naga Japan Exchange Students

Naga High School and Mount Si High School have been sister schools since 1993, a cultural exchange between Japanese and local students that continues in its 20th year. On Saturday, March 16, our community welcomed 19 students and two chaperones from the Wakayama Prefecture, in the south east coastal area of Japan. While these guests are here through March 27, 2013, they will experience American home life by staying with host families, attend Mount Si High School, visit other schools, share their culture, make new friendships, exchange ideas, and explore sites of interest around our area.

Welcome to the Snoqualmie Valley!

Carmen Villanueva is the local program coordinator and an avid host family participant.  Her family has opened their home and hearts to about 12 students over the years -- from Japan, Poland, Italy, China, Brazil, and Spain -- for both short-term visits and year-long stays.  She explained, "We love the experience. We learn about different cultures and perspectives, and have gained extended families. Our long-term students call us 'mom & dad' (to this day) and many return for a visit. My family now has friendships around the world that will last our lifetime."

This program is sponsored through Cultural Homestay International. If you are interested in hosting a student from Japan next year, please contact Carmen (cdvillanueva@comcast.net or 425-281-1224). Note: host families are volunteers; they are not paid for anything they do or provide.

For information about other student exchange or host family opportunities at Mount Si High School, please contact counselor Elaine Maimon (maimone@svsd410.org or 425-831-8428).

Mount Si Principal John Belcher and Naga Math Teacher Takeuchi Yasuhiko exchange gifts on behalf of their schools. Several Naga gifts from previous years are also on display in the school's Wildcat Court.

Naga students took a walk to nearby Snoqualmie Middle School during lunch and shared the art of origami with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Many SMS students made their own, while some asked the Naga students for special pieces.

After school one day, Naga students were invited to the Dunckel's farm to play with the horses. Seeing a horse up close, touching and riding one was a first-time experience for many! It was (and usually is) one of the highlights of their visit to the Valley. A special thanks to Kirk and Shannon Dunckel, who are also a host family.