By Jennifer Von Ohlen
DASSEL, MN In addition to viewing sites and experiencing the American culture, some visitors come to the US to learn the language.
Ruka Kawahara, 16, of Japan is attending Dassel-Cokato High School this year as a foreign exchange student to prepare for a career in the medical field.
“I want to be a nurse who can speak English in the future,” she stated, explaining that she currently has a difficult time understanding the language.
“But my teachers and friends help me,” she added.
During her stay, Kawahara is residing with Karl and Ruth Ann Erickson of Dassel and their three children.
“We heard that there was a need for host families,” stated Ruth Ann. “We are so glad we chose to do it.”
So far, the family has enjoyed sharing their home with Kawahara and showing her around the state.
In September, the family decided to take Kawahara camping for her birthday, which Kawahara said is now one of her favorite memories.
“We had a piñata and some cake; also I got a gift,” she said.
Throughout her time in the US so far, Kawahara has noticed “many differences between Japan and America.” For example, the school year in Japan runs from April until March, while America’s starts in September and ends early June.
She also commented that “everything is big” in America, noting especially the pizza.
Before she returns home, Kawahara hopes to shop at the Mall of America in Bloomington, and to visit one of the Disney resorts.
The Ericksons would also like Kawahara to meet the rest of their family, and to take her to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
While she does miss her family, friends, and the food back home, Kawahara said she is enjoying her time in DC and is looking forward to the rest of the school year.