By TaMia Morris, Editor-in-Chief

This school year the Raider family has had the opportunity to receive a new edition from Japan, Junior Kana Hayashi.

Hayashi is a foreign exchange student who is experiencing America in the home of Sophomore Mia Mack and Senior Tyona Mack. This experience opens up a whole new world and different cultural views for everyone involved. The foreign exchange student program was made possible by the non-profit organization Ayusa.

Ayusa is dedicated to promoting global learning and leadership through foreign exchange, study abroad and leadership programs for high school students from the U.S. and around the world. Because Mia Mack wanted to go to Japan to study, Mrs. Donna Mack, Host Mother, found Ayusa in searching for exchange programs for her. She decided that they would try it out by getting a student from Japan to come to their home.

In order to get Hayashi to America, the family only had to pick her up from the airport. Ayusa took care of the rest. Before Hayashi could be sent over, Ayusa required that all members of the Mack household go through an interview and background check. The host family had to commit to providing a bed and three meals per day. The exchange student’s parents were expected to provide funds for any additional needs. Ayusa doesn’t allow host parents to communicate with natural parents. Hayashi is also somewhat restricted from communication with her family in Japan.

Hayashi wanted to come to America because she was interested in improving her English and to experience a new culture.

“America is fun and cheap,” Hayashi said.

Despite the fact that she thought everyone else in America would be similar to her foreign exchange family, she soon learned that everyone is different and full of personality. She enjoys American food, cars (especially because Japanese rarely use cars) and Americans themselves.

However, Hayashi has her dislikes about America.

“America is sometimes too loud, and the rules are stricter, especially dress code,” she said.

In Japan, there aren’t many rules in the schools. For example, students can pull out their phones in class to text, and there will be no definite consequence. The dress code in Japanese schools is not as big an issue as it is in American schools. In Japan, there is a uniform where the girls wear skirts every day. The length of the skirt doesn’t matter, while here it does.

“The most interesting things about America are the parties and the formal events, such as homecoming,” Hayashi said.

School in Japan is very different from America. The school Hayashi attended in Japan is year round, but they receive week-long breaks. Every month, the school takes the students on trips, such as a ski camp in January. While it may be fun, the students are required to write a two- to three-page essay about the trip.

School is harder here, while school is just busier in Japan,” Hayashi said.

Their school also doesn’t have any custodians. Every Thursday, the students are required to clean the classrooms themselves. They also do not have to change classes. Instead, the students are assigned to a homeroom class and teachers of each subject come to the classroom rather than the students transitioning from class to class. They also have ten minute breaks between classes before the next teacher arrives.

Junior Kana Hayashi is a foreign exchange student at Keenan this year.  Hayashi is boarding with the family of Senior Tyona Mack and Junior Mia Mack.  Hayashi has been welcomed into the school community and was voted Coming Home Princess recently.  Photo by Khadijah Lesane, Staff Photographer.

At home, Hayashi is referred to as just another member of the Mack family. The host parents call her daughter, while the children call her sister. She has also experienced common sibling rivalry due to the fact that she is expected to abide by the same rules as the other children.

“At first, I thought it was weird to have Kana in my home, but now it’s just natural and fun,” Tyona Mack said.

Mia Mack also thought it would be unusual to have Kana in the home, but they got to know each other beforehand electronically.

“I thought it would be awkward, but we e-mailed each other often, which made it easier to accept her and learn about each other,” Mia said.

The family really enjoys having Hayashi around. Family members think she is full of energy and excitement. They express their curiosities about her culture, and she expresses hers about American culture.

“Having Kana around is such a joy. There is nothing I dislike about having her around. I would actually like to keep her another year,” Donna Mack said.

Hayashi has fit in with the family, school and community. Coming from the big city of Tokyo, she often marvels at the ability to see stars in the sky here. She likes to go to school dances and hang out with other foreign exchange students who are here from various countries. Keenan has also given her the opportunity to participate in things that she may want to explore as career choices. She has talked about possibly going to college in the U.S.

Hayashi is involved in many extracurricular activities in school and the community. In school, she is involved in the robotics team and softball team.

She is also involved in many church activities, “which she may not like as well,” Donna Mack said.

This is due to the fact that Hayashi doesn’t understand the worship of a God because she believes in evolution.

Hayashi has enjoyed traveling to Charlotte and Atlanta. She also has enjoyed ice skating, visiting museums, haunted houses and the farmers market.

“We are planning to take her on a cruise with the family and to the White House,” Donna Mack said.

Hayashi has also been involved in community service projects at the Harvest Hope Food Bank and Ronald McDonald House.

Recently, she has also had the opportunity to win Coming Home Princess.