East meets Midwest
By Denise Moran For The Courier-News September 8, 2012 4:56PM
Mandi Paddock, left, and Arisa Hara stand by the Hampshire High School Whip-pur sign.| Denise Moran photo
Updated: October 10, 2012 6:16AM
HAMPSHIRE — Two 17-year-old students from different sides of the world have been given the opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures while they both attend Hampshire High School.
Arisa Hara, 17, of Kobe, Japan, is currently living with Don and Sheri Stout of Hampshire and Sheri’s children: Mitch Paddock, a graduate of Tribeca Flashpoint Academy in Chicago, and Mandi Paddock, 17. Their brother, Tyler, is currently attending college in Wisconsin.
Arisa’s father, Takashi Hara, works for a pharmaceutical company in Japan. Her mother, Rieko Hara, is a pharmacist.
Arisa arrived in the United States on July 24. She and Mandi started classes at Hampshire High on Aug. 13. Arisa will stay in the United States for a total of 10 months.
Kobe is the fifth largest city in Japan with a population of about 1.5 million. It is the capital city of Hyogo Prefecture on the island of Honshu. Mount Rokko overlooks the port city at an elevation of 931 meters.
Arisa said Kobe is known worldwide for its beef and sweets such as cakes, pudding and chocolates. She also noted that the city is warmer than it is in the Hampshire area.
Arisa said that Hampshire High is larger than the school she attends in Kobe, which is called Keimeigakuin High School.
“I got lost a lot on my first day at Hampshire High,” Arisa said. “In Japan, students stay in the same room all day while the teachers move from class to class.”
Arisa said she was surprised to see Hampshire High students who have blue or green hair. She was also surprised that some students wear pierced jewelry in places other than just their ears.
“In Japan, students wear uniforms,” Arisa said. “Girls wear a white blouse and navy skirt, while boys wear shirts and long pants. Girls wear skirts year round even during the winter. High school students wear a white ribbon. Lower class students have a navy ribbon.”
Arisa’s favorite American band is Panic at the Disco. Her favorite Japanese bands are Born and Matenrou Opera.
She studied English for five years before she came to America. “I liked my English class in Japan, but it is harder to speak English here,” Arisa said.
Arisa has decided that she prefers playing Japanese “soft” tennis more than the American style of tennis.
“In Japan, the form and the rules are different,” she said.
In comparing Kobe to Hampshire, she said Kobe is a “loud city with more traffic and more public transportation. Hampshire is quiet. It gets very dark at night. The stars are beautiful.”
Out of respect, Arisa calls her host couple “Mr. Don and Mrs. Sheri.” Since Don is a captain with the Burlington Community Fire Protection District, Arisa was able to ride with Sheri on the back of a fire truck and throw candy to children during the 2012 Hampshire Coon Creek Country Day parade.
Arisa and Mandi have become good friends. They both like to travel. This past summer, Mandi traveled with the Hampshire High chorus to Germany, Austria and Italy. After she completes early high school graduation requirements this winter, Mandi is signed up to become an exchange student in an Asian country from March 2013 to January 2014.
“I’m on the waiting list,” Mandi said. “I prefer going to Japan because I have been teaching myself Japanese since sixth grade. I would like to go to Judson University and study the Japanese, Chinese and Korean languages. I want to get a degree in international business and later become a foreign language teacher.”
Mandi said Arisa has been teaching her Japanese phrases and the names of different foods. For Mandi’s birthday, Arisa gave her a yukata, which is a silk kimono that is worn during summer festivals.
Arisa has traveled to Australia and France. She has also gone on school trips to England, Singapore and Malaysia.
“I like America because it has been the easiest country for talking to people,” Arisa said.
When she returns to Kobe, Arisa will have to repeat her high school senior year and graduate in 2014. She plans to attend Kwanseigakuin University in Nishinomiya, Japan. She is undecided at this time on her career plans, but she said she would like an international job that involves travel.
Mandi said that she and Arisa are both shy on the outside but full of inner determination.
“We both want to experience other areas of the world,” Mandi said.