A group of energetic and curious students has been on campus the past couple of weeks. Apart from sitting in on various classes, these students from Toyko are here for an experience they are likely to never forget.
The group, composed of 16 seniors from Meji Gakuin Higashimurayama High School, has been participating in Winter English Camp at NW since Jan. 11 and will be departing Feb. 2.
This marks the second year for the Winter Camp, during which students apply and test to be allowed to travel to the United States through the program. Out of 26 students who tested, 16 students achieved the test score required for the program.
Kari Beadner, an instructor and camp coordinator students, said the students receive approximately six and a half hours of instruction in English language and American culture each day.
“The goal is that they grow in their English conversation skills,” Beadner said.
The studies are intensive and focused on an immersion into the English language. Apart from learning the language, the students are here to experience the culture.
They all have different reasons for coming to the States through this program.
“I decided to come here so I can speak English better,” said Japanese student Go Ohara.
For Daisuke Nahora, the motivation is to touch American culture and have better oral communication (skills).
The group recently traveled to Omaha, Neb., for a weekend, and attended a Broadway show and visited the Omaha Zoo.
On the trip, they were able to see another aspect of American lifestyle.
“I feel like they were excited about Omaha,” said sophomore student and tutor Genesis Torres. “At times, it was a bit overwhelming, but in general, I feel like they had a really good time. Getting away from here and experiencing more of the United States was good for them.”
The female students are staying on campus in Hospers Hall, while the male students are being hosted by area families. The female students have been able to experience the community that dorm life offers.
“It’s so fun,” said Japanese student Megumi Miura. “My dorm sisters are so kind, so I want to stay here more.”
The group has been able to interact with NW students as comfortably as they can in their Japanese culture by watching movies and spending time together.
This doesn’t mean they don’t struggle, though. Sometimes the right English words just don’t come to them.
“I want to speak English, but sometimes I can’t,” Miura said.
Several Japanese students said they still struggle to understand the language, but that might not be evident given the way they take in the culture around them.
“I’d say they’re enjoying the experience,” Torres said. “They’re always excited about everything.”
This excitement has attracted other NW students to them.
“I think American people are very friendly,” Ohara said. “You are all very nice guys.”
Although the students will leave soon, many said their interactions and experiences with both NW and the United States will be a positive influence in their lives for years to come.