My name is Marino Nasu. I was born in Japan, and I spent four and half years in the United States when my father’s company transferred him to Virginia. I had such a wonderful time in Virginia with my schoolmates. I was not only sad but wished to come back someday when we had to leave. From then, I studied English with native English speaking tutors, a school with great English program, listening to English songs, and so on. I finally seized the opportunity to learn in an American high school — by applying for AFS! I am now in Seattle, Washington. I would like to share the wonderful experience I’m having here.
As I had hoped and expected, many things are different in the high school I go to in Seattle. Since class schedules do not change every day like in Japan, students get the same class every weekday here. I feel that this allows further understandings of class. I take calculus, Spanish, drawing & painting, treble choir, American literature & comprehension, and theatre. Just like choir and theatre, there are many unique classes such as ceramics, photography, genetics, programming that students can take in most public high schools. Students will talk with their school counselor before each semester and decide which class to take. I am very happy with the classes I take. Each class goes into depth and is full-fledged, but entertaining at the same time. Other students seem to be enjoying their time at class too.
Unlike a typical Japanese school, schools in the states do not necessarily introduce a new student in front of the whole class. Students around cannot always tell a new student or an exchange student from others they do not know, so it is a challenge for some exchange students to start interacting with them. I had trouble having myself known by other students, too. However, during class the teacher sometimes had us do some work together as a group, and through those opportunities I got to interact with more and more students. Eventually, people started talking to me outside class, especially those who are interested in Japanese culture. Some of them take Japanese classes. Others are not necessarily interested in the language, but to things like Japanese anime, J-POP music, and Harajuku fashion culture. I was surprised and glad because I was able to find people who have common interests with me. They also tell me about things I don’t know, which is always interesting for me.
My high school is called “Ballard High School.” Ballard is known by the community for having a wonderful performing arts program. We have a nice auditorium, theatre and tech classes with a wonderful teacher, award-winning choir and band, and most of all — school plays. There are two plays and one musical each year students can participate in, if they try out for the casting audition and be found capable. Luckily, I managed to pass the audition and received a position in the musical for this year, “URINETOWN.” There are musical practices every weekday afterschool, lasting up to three hours with very little breaks in between. Practice can be really exhausting at times, but I enjoy it a lot. Singing practices are very advanced; I always learn something I did not know. Dance practices give me a chance to get exercise. I made new friends during practice, too. Students come to school on Saturday (which is a day off for all students,) for the work call, where we work on props backstage, such as set pieces, stage decorations, and costumes. I have worked on costumes every week with other girls. There is a really nice senior student who is in charge of the costume crew. She took me many places in the city, and introduced me to her friends. She helped me get to know more people. Now we hang out a lot afterschool and on weekends! I appreciate what she had done for me very much. Working in this show is a great experience for me; I am very excited for it to start in March!
My AFS area team is called the South Puget Sound Area Team. We have a wonderful relationship; I had no trouble getting along with them from the very first time we met. Students in this group are friendly, bright, open-minded, and optimistic. They are the first people I would talk to when I am having a hard time on this program. We share the same experience of being an exchange student, and it is quite big a thing than it may seem. The volunteers are kind-hearted and understanding. They are great help for us when things are not easy. I appreciate this nice relationship with my area group.
Finally, I would like to strongly state that I absolutely love what I’m getting to do here in Seattle, thanks to AFS. It was all possible because of people around me who supported me until today, like my family, my host family, my friends, and my AFS people. I was able to learn how to truly be thankful to the kindness I receive from others. I am very much looking forward to the rest of the year; I would like to get the best experience out of it!
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