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The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
June 6, 2012     The New Era Paper
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June 6, 2012

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Page 8 Vtm ('_CMMIIIIITV Tile  r" - June 6, 2012 m Amigos From page 1 Tomono, a very capable clari- netist, joined the band and choir. And, since she took ballet lessons as a young girl before quitting "be- cause I had to study to take a test to get into junior high (at Josai)," she joined the dance team too. Chang joined the Key Club and the Drama Club. Chang and Harada also sang in the Symphonic Choir, which requires an audition to get in. Do- mashenko didn't join the choir, but not for lack of talent, as everyone found out when she performed a Russian pop number at the May Week Talent Show -'in which Chang accompanied both Tomono (clarinet solo) and Harada (Japa- nese pop song) on the piano. "Anastasiya has a beautiful voice, but she told me, 'I came here to learn. I didn't come here to take foufou classes," said Burford, who hosted Harada for half the year and had much interaction with the four girls, who, she said, bonded even though the only common language they spoke was English. "(Domashenko) can sing in three or four different languages." Domashenko had to leave early to take a test back home and Chang was busy serving as a coun- selor at Outdoor Camp for local grade-schoolers last week when the others got together with a reporter to talk about their experiences. Nguyen, 17, said he thought it took them a while to get accli- mated, but by the second semester, "especially Shiho and Anna talked, oh my gosh." He said they've picked up a lot of new language skills during their stay. "We even learned a lot of new slang." "You probably shouldn't write that," said Tomono. All three said there are big dif- ferences between what schools are like at home and Sweet Home High School. "It's so different," Tomono said. "Today, in American history class, we were talking about school uniforms. Some students thought they were bad." "They don't separate students, whether you're rich or you're poor," said Nguyen, who, like the Japanese students, wore one at home. "Everybody's dressed the same." Other differences: "You can't eat food during class," Tomono said. "We have to clean the school," said Harada, referring to a common practice in Japan. "Yes, after school we sweep and empty the garbage," Tomono said. Nguyen said students stay in one classroom in his school, and teachers rotate from classroom to classroom during the day. "American students probably exercise more," he said. Not necessarily so, said the Japanese, whose school is multi- story and who have to climb steps to get to class. "Our cafeteria is down, under the building," Tomono said. "Here your buildings are so wide, but in File photo by Scott Swanson From left, Shiho Harada, Yoshiko Tomono and Anna Chang compete dur- ing a track meet. File Photo by Sean C. Morgan Enjoying Homecoming festivities with their escorts and families are, Yoshiko Tomono, center, with her host moth- er, Marlene Zurcher, and, at left, Shiho Harada with Bob and Cynde Burford, with whom she lived last fall. Japan they're tall." Another big difference, they said, is students' relationship with- teachers. "There's so much more famil- iarity here," said Nguyen. "It's OK, it's just different cultures. In my country students have to respect teachers." "At first I was shocked," To- mono said. "I wondered how I should speak to my host mom." "In my country, when students receive anything from an adult, they have to take it in two hands," Nguyen said. "Here," he gestured with a quick one-hand sweeping motion. "You can't choose your class- es (in Japan)," Harada said. "That's cool here." Another big difference, they all said, is the extra-curricular activi- ties available - clubs and sports. "I really like the sports system, the after-school activity," Nguyen said. "You guys don't do one sport all year long," Harada said, noting that in Japan students have to join a sports club and practice and com- pete in that sport year-round. Or, as Tomono, pointed out, they could join a chemistry club. "I was so surprised," said Har- ada, who said she enjoyed swim- ming immensely. "It was so hard," she said. "Jo- sai doesn't have a swim club and I haven't done swimming since el- ementary school. We had to swim every morning and every after- noon. I had to get up at 5:30." The Japanese students said they've missed the bustle of a huge city and "the trains." "People," Tomono said. "1 miss the people jammed on the trains." But they've enjoyed the slow- er pace of Sweet Home, they sai d . "I feel relaxed here," Harada said. "I like the nature," said To- mono. "Everybody knows me," Har- ada said. "They say, 'Hi Shiho.'" "I come from the big city too," Nguyen said. "Here it's so peaceful and green. People are very friendly too." "Even the homeless," said To- mono. "They say to me, 'Hi, baby.' I'm scared but maybe it's OK. I say, 'Hi.'" Hannah Mather, a sophomore who lives near the Burfords and whose family has hosted Japanese visitors before, and who hosted Harada when the Burfords have been out of town. said she's en- joyed the students. "When we did track together, they were always happy, always to- gether," she said. "They run up and jump on you. The expressions they make are so funny. "Anna, if you say something, she'll say 'Oh my gosh, that's so funny.'" She said that she's seen chang- es in the visitors as well. "Shiho was really friendly when I first met her. Yoshiko was friendly when they were all togeth- er, but she didn't know you. But they've gotten more excited and participating and stuff like that." "Yoshiko has really opened up," Burford said. The Japanese students will return to Josai for their final year of high school, while Nguyen said he plans to attend college at Santa Barbara City College in Califor- nia. Burford said this group of ex- change students has stood out in the way they've interacted with not only the student body, but each other. "Four different countries are represented here," she said. "They clicked together. I had so much fun. They'd come over. They'd play the piano. Yoshiko didn't have the In- ternet (at home) so she'd catch up on her e-mail. Shiho would sing and Anna would play the piano. Anstasiya would talk and pet the dog. "I told them, the last time I saw them all together, 'We have changed you guys into Ameri- cans. Yoshiko laughed and said, 'Yeah.'" Being here has definitely changed them, the students said. "We talk and we mix Japanese and English. It's so weird," To- mono said. Harada, in particular, hit it off with Chang. "She loves Japanese music and dance," she said. They agreed that Domashen- ko's intelligence particuarly stood out. "She was so smart," Harada said. "She was amazing," Burford said. "I would love to know what her IQ was because she could de- bate politics with my husband. Not many people could do that." Stineff agreed that Domash- File photo by Scott Swanson Anastasiya Domashenko performs during the May Week Talent Show. enko stood out among the many exchange students who've been at Sweet Home. "She spoke five languages," she said. "She was a real excep- tional girl. The whole group has been exceptional." Susan Angland, who, with her husband Larry, hosted Domashen- ko since December, said the expe- rience was "life-changing." Ang- land, who has no children, said she became a "mother (or grandmoth- er) for the first time, then quickly has experienced the 'empty nest.' It happened so quickly," she said. "At 59, I finally get a sense of what it is like to have a daughter," she said. "We did so many little things together. We read a book out loud. I helped her with homework. We sang. We listened to music. I comforted her when she cried, she did the same for me. "I watched her compete in swimming and track. I witnessed her compete in a talent show at school, and I was amazed at her confidence and ability and sheer beauty. I watched her give speeches about her country and her life, and she is getting so much better at this - very polished and confident." They also practiced yoga, went on walks, went to the Cirque du Soleil "OYO" show, went roll- er skating. "We went shopping - a lot - even to Goodwill, her favor- ite store. I bought her miscella- neous things, music, DVD movies, See Amigos, page 9