Cultural Exchange

Photo+courtesy+of+Asher+Schleich
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Cultural Exchange

Photo courtesy of Asher Schleich

Photo courtesy of Asher Schleich

Photo courtesy of Asher Schleich

Photo courtesy of Asher Schleich

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Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance (KM Perform) Writing Focus mentor Mr. Weber has orchestrated the Japanese Foreign Exchange program at KMHS since 2004. Many students enjoy experiencing new cultures, and in the summer of 2019, a group of American families will be hosting Japanese students once again. This year, Weber is looking for new volunteers on the KMHS campus to host. 

Weber and his friend Tim Detmer, founders of the Japanese Foreign Exchange Program, met     when they were studying Aikido at the same martial arts dojo in Japan. Just before Weber headed back to the United States in 2001, he mentioned to Detmer that they should organize a foreign exchange program between their students. Weber said that they wanted the program to “[form] relationships between people.” The goal of the exchange is to give students “a lot of face time with a particular Japanese student and his/her family,” keep costs low for everyone involved, and send students to families they know and trust. The idea took off in 2004, and since then, Weber and Detmer have arranged for approximately 100 homestays in Japan and the United States. 

Every year, the pair puts forth a lot of effort to make the exchanges run as smoothly as possible for both the hosts and students. During the exchange, the main job of host families is to give students a place to stay and provide breakfast and dinner. Some families will take their exchange students vacationing over the weekends; however, Weber said that it is not required, and that students and faculty alike are “just happy to be with you and see what you do.” Besides that, “the obligations are really quite minimal. [Detmer] and I create a schedule for the entire group (both Japanese and KM students) to follow Monday through Friday from 9 AM – 5 PM.”

The exchange process isn’t as hard as it may seem, and students (both Japanese and American) often enjoy the experience. If you are interested in hosting a Japanese exchange student, contact Mr. Weber for more information at [email protected]. “The students are very polite, very kind, and do their best to fit into the family. The experience provides a window into a culture across the sea, and perhaps one day, someone in the hosting family will be inspired to visit Japan,” said Weber.