Lafayette, IND. (WLFI) - A group of 12 students traveled more than 6,000 miles to Lafayette to experience the American way.
They are here for 10 days experiencing many things. Including meeting both mayors of Lafayette and West Lafayette learning about local government, touring the West Lafayette Police Department, and staying with host families throughout the communities.
The students hail from Ota, Japan, Lafayette’s sister city. Each year Ota and Lafayette alternate between sending students overseas.
Today, the students got a very special treat: root beer.
Jody Hamilton from the Greater Lafayette Commerce planned today’s itinerary. Taking the students to Dog N Suds for lunch was at the top.
“I always like to bring them to Dog N Suds because it's one of those gems we have in our community that a lot of places, nobody else has,” said Hamilton. “And the root beer is very unique to the Japanese because they don't have anything like that.”
The sugary drink received mixed reviews from the group.
“There were some of my friends who liked it but most did not,” said Yuto Katayama, one of the students on the trip.
Katayama has lived in Lafayette for three years previously. He said having a slice of Arni’s Pizza was what he most looked forward to when coming back.
He also said there are a lot of differences between Indiana and Japan.
“The land is big, the food is big, everything is big,” he said.
But not all differences are bad, as these students are finding out.
“The food here is a little bit different than in Japan, but I like different,” he said.
“They like those differences,” said Hamilton. “That’s what they are here for.”
Making discoveries about a new culture is what the program is all about.
“The purpose of the program is to exchange the culture and really learn how each location is," she said.
Two of the girls who are the leaders of the group say that they like American hot dogs, even though they are different from the ones they have in Japan.
After an All-American meal, they headed over to the Columbian Park Zoo to learn about regional wildlife.
They met a rat snake, and after a large round of squeals, learned how the snake is essential to the function of local farms because they eat troublesome rodents. They saw river otters that can be found along the Wabash. They fed goats similar to the ones shown at the county fair. And they saw two bald eagles, our national bird.
Later in their stay, they will get to experience an American school. Some will be going to Jefferson and others to Tecumseh. Hamilton says that while they do get a bit nervous about this, the friendships they make while at the school often last a lifetime.
Hamilton stressed that this program is about sharing cultures with the hopes of seeing these students come back to Indiana one day.
“Showing them what Indiana and the city of Lafayette and West Lafayette have to offer in the hope that one day they might want to come back and go to school at Purdue,” she said.
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