This past weekend, we hosted a 14 year old Japanese exchange student. Shohei (pronounced "show hey"), is a skinny little lad and very polite. By the time he came to our house, he'd already spent a couple of days touring around the obvious landmarks in Seattle, the Space Needle, the Market and a Mariner's baseball game. He was pretty much exhausted and experiencing severe jet lag when we picked him up. He slept for 15 hours....comatose....even through Buck pounding on the bedroom door and eventually having to dismantle it so Levi could retrieve his SAT ticket for his test on Saturday morning!
Our dog Max was immediately intrigued with someone new in the house, however Shohei didn't know what to do with a dog and was quite intimidated by our little guy. I had him hold out his hand while Max licked it, just to show him he wouldn't bite.
Shohei speaks about as much English as we speak Japanese. Very little. Here, he has a translator in which he typed phrases and we could read them in English. There were a few times I'd walk by the bathroom and hear him practicing something he wanted to say to us in English.
He dived right into our life though. He helped Levi mop the floor at Buck's office, gave Max treats and played Xbox. Levi took him down to the beach where they swam for a while and relaxed on the dock.
Shohei is from Tokyo and had never experienced sitting by a fire before. Simple things like walking through the woods, a campfire, and playing with a dog aren't something you get to experience in the concrete jungle.
Shohei's mother writes English pretty well, so I sent a note home with him telling her that we'd be in Tokyo in less than a month. I was hoping we'd get to meet the rest of the family and maybe they could show us around a little bit.
She emailed me yesterday and is extremely excited to meet us. As July 4th nears, I'm getting anxious to go. I'm not looking forward to the 17 hour flight though.
It was a great experience to host someone from another country. If you ever get the chance, go for it!