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Barton Co. Welcome

International exchange begins

POSTED July 23, 2011 8:21 p.m.

By Jim Misunas

With a 106-degree temperature, it’s safe to say that Barton County provided a “warm” welcome to their visitors from Japan Saturday at Jack Kilby Square.
Pleasantries were exchanged and everyone went on their way to their homes for the next month.
“Our 4-H host families are excited and maybe a little nervous,” said Berny Unruh, Barton County Extension agent. “It is a new experience that both the host family and their international visitor will learn from.”
Host parent Mel Waite of Ellinwood and Unruh trace their friendship back to youthful 4-H days in Republic County, although neither would say how many years ago.
“Berny and I go a long ways back. When Berny asked us whether we’d be a host family, we were glad to do it,” Mel said. “It will be an adventure for the whole family. Everyone will learn a lot over the next month.”
For the Waites, the international language between Kansas and Japan is baseball.
Marc Waite, 13, enjoys playing summer baseball and he played pitcher, shortstop and first base for the Ellinwood Junior Babe Ruth team. Marc was anxious to show off his fastball, splitter and especially his “slurve,” to Hiroki Suyama, who plays baseball several times a week in Japan. Suyama, a left-hander pitcher, also figures to show Marc a few new pitches.
“We can’t wait to play catch,” Marc said. “I probably like pitching the most. I like striking them out.”
The boys agree on baseball, even if Marc likes the Kansas City Royals and Hiroki’s favorite team is the
Chunichi Dragons. One of the family’s planned trips is to see a Kansas City Royals-New York Yankees game in Kansas City.
“We’re excited to have another boy in the family,” said Mary Waite. “Marc likes his sports and they got together because of their love of baseball.”
The 4-H/Japanese exchange program involves North American and Japanese Youth. Barton County will be home  for seven Japanese youngsters ages 12 to 14 until August 18.  Japanese adult chaperone Tamiko will stay with Barton County coordinator Karen Kramp. Kramp and Marian DeWerff helped organize the program in 2005 and 2006 and graciously accepted the challenge again in 2011.
The host families plan most of their activities. But there will be scheduled times when everyone gets together from time-to-time.
Here are the exchange students and their families:
• Yuko Azuma — Samantha Harter, host sister; Doug and Amy Harter, Pawnee Rock.
• Sachiho Tomiyama — Jadin Boone, host sister; Chad and Steph Boone, Great Bend.
• Takuji Saito — Brice Kaiser, host brother; Doug and Michelle Kaiser, Great Bend.
• Hiroki Suyama — Marc Waite, host brother; Mel and Mary Waite, Ellinwood.
• Haruhi Iura — Cody Wondra, host brother; Kelly and Kristen Wondra, Ellinwood.
• Yuki Tanaka — Cass Wolff, host sister; Aaron and Laura Wolff, Pawnee Rock.
• Masami Sudo — Bonny Boultinghouse, host sister; Shane and Jill Boultinghouse, Great Bend.
• Coordinators — Karen Kramp, Ellinwood;     Marian DeWerff, Ellinwood; Berny Unruh, Barton County Extension agent 4-H.
The 4-H families applied and were interview at a home visit and during the last month have been in contact with the Japanese family by e-mail or letters.  Some have even spoke to their family on the phone.
The 4-H Japanese Exchange is one of the largest exchange programs in the world involving North American and Japanese youth. The Japanese Exchange program started by three Japanese friends who wished to increase language skills by forming neighborhood groups with tutors who taught English, Korena, Chinese and Russian.
Labo is a youth origination that stresses languague learning and cultural awareness. Students learn stories, songs and plays in native languages at Labo parties to prepare for their visit.
Language, Experience, Experiment and Exchange (LEX) groups learn languages, songs and games from other cultures. LEX has always emphasized the importance of learning outside a traditional classroom setting. LEX began its home-stay exchange with 4-H in 1982.


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