Host families sought for Tsaruta students

Feb. 2, 2011

Want to share your American life with kids from a very different culture?

How about an unforgettable experience for you and your children? Interested in learning a few new words, a new recipe or new insight into a distant culture and way of life?

The Hood River-Tsuruta Sister City Committee is looking for host families for the annual group of junior high school students from Tsuruta, Japan. The group of 10 boys, eight girls and three adults is set to arrive in town March 11, for a one-week glimpse of life in small-town America.

Similar groups have been coming to town for more than 30 years through the sister city program, and groups from Hood River have visited Tsuruta and stayed with Japanese host families for just as long.

Hundreds of families have opened their homes and taken in students from Tsuruta, and almost always to amazing ends.

"It's a great experience that we are always glad we have done," said Scott Murahashi, housing coordinator for the program and active host dad. "It's hard to explain how much we - and especially the kids - get out of the experience. It's an amazing way to learn about people and another culture."

Host families usually take two or three students for the week, and should have kids of roughly the same age in the family. Along with ski day at Mt. Hood Meadows - always a favorite among the visitors - the students attend school with their host brothers/sisters for two days, take a group shopping trip to Portland, tour the valley and spend evenings and one weekend doing whatever host families want to do.

Murahashi noted that all of the activities are paid for and the kids have their own money, so other than food at night there's little cost to host families.

"The experience of hosting a couple students is something I recommend to anyone who has a little extra time and a little extra room," Murahashi said. "What you and your children will get in return is an amazing experience your family will always remember."

Students in Tsuruta study English starting in kindergarten, so those who visit will have a very basic background of the language. For most, however, the trip will be the first outside of Japan.

"The language barrier is challenging, but it's also very fun," Murahashi said. "It's always surprising how fast we get to know each other, and how fast the kids bond and learn to communicate together."

Interested? Contact Murahashi as soon as possible at 541-387-3169 or by e-mail at g03q6b@yahoo.com.

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