Naoto Ishizuki and Masami Urakawa are among nearly 30 youth
from Japan in California through the Lions Club.
The Milpitas Executive Lions ClubÂ made arrangements for the traditional exchange of pins in council chambers earlier this week with Mayor Esteves and City Manager Tom Williams.
High school students Naoto Ishizuki and Masami Urakawa, both 16-years-old,
are part of the Lions Club youth exchange from Japan. Almost 30 Japanese youth are in California for the program. Prior to Milpitas, they spent a week with families in southern California.
Milpitas host moms Marie Pham and Toby Librande have been keeping them busy with trips to the San Jose Giants baseball game, Golden Gate Bridge and Monterey.
Both have teenage sons. Librande’s oldest, Jordan, is visiting from college.
Along with his brother Daryl, they taught Ishizuki how to play checkers for the
first time and introduced him to the computer game Plants vs. Zombies.
Pham chairs the youth exchange committee for the Lions Club district 4-6C.
Her children Brian and Sabrina LeÃ³n have hosted students twice this summer.Â TheÂ European students came earlier in July.
On Thursday, Ishizuki and Urakawa will visit the San Jose Japantown
Lions Club. Although youth participants don’t need membership to be
sponsored, Ishizuki’s grandfather is a member of the Lions Club in Japan.Â Ishizuki hails from Koga, Ibaraki, in the same prefecture as Milpitas’ sister city of Tsukuba.Â Urakawa lives a four-hour train ride northeast in the city of Higashiura
The two fly home on Saturday.
Japanese youth visit Milpitas through exchange program
by Shannon Barry, Milpitas Post
Posted:Â 08/31/2011 03:16:52 PM PDT
Updated:Â 08/31/2011 03:20:17 PM PDT
Naoto Ishizuki and Dylan Librande share many similarities, despite living thousands of miles apart and being immersed in two completely different cultures. They enjoy playing video games, listening to music, eating and sleeping.
The two 16-year-old boys were joined together as part of the annual Lions International Youth Exchange Program, supported by the Milpitas Executive Lions Club.
Dylan Librande, brother Jordan, 19, and their parents were Ishizuki’s host family
when he arrived in Milpitas Aug. 13 for a two-week stay through last Saturday, at which point he headed back home toKoga,Japan.
“Some of the things they share, regardless of where they grew up,” said Milpitas host mom Toby Librande.
The visit concluded Ishizuki’s first visit outside Japan, which began in Southern California with another host family followed by a weeklong camp before coming to Northern California.
Brian Leon, sister Sabrina, and their parents Marie Pham and Jose Leon were host family for the other Japanese student, Masami Urakawa, who stayed in Milpitas through the program. It was also his first time visiting America. The family has hosted exchange students twice this summer with Italian studentAlice Ferro coming in July.
Brian Leon said the cultural experience was rewarding as they both learned things from one another,
on many levels. He taught Urakawa about American sarcasm and his religion, Christianity. In turn, Urakawa talked with him about his religion stance, atheism.
“Masami is like the best English speaking exchange student from Japan that we’ve had so I was able
to talk a lot more with him; not more content but better conversation,” Brian Leon said.
Almost 30 Japanese youth total were in California for the exchange program.
Both students came to talk with the Milpitas Post about their experiences living under the same roof in America
during the first trip out of their country.
“I think the benefits are really seeing through the eyes of the children, ours and theirs,” Marie Pham said.
Both Ishizuki and Urakawa enthusiastically talked about trips to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown
and Polly Ann Ice Cream, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Great Mall and Great America. In addition, Urakawa mentioned a four-hour bicycle trip he took with host dad Jose Leon to the salt marshes next to Alviso. Toby Librande said her husband took Ishizuki on a tour of his work, Electronic Arts Games inSan Mateo.
Toby Librande, whose family had never housed an exchange student before, said they decided to give it a try since their older son was going to be home from college temporarily. Ishizuki shared a room with him during his two-week stay.
“We had a house full of boys anyway so it was just the more the merrier,” she said.
Toby Librande added Dylan bonded with Ishizuki on many levels, but mainly through their love of video games. They spent his two-week visit working away on “Halo: Reach” together from the beginning and were able to finish it
before Ishizuki left. In addition, the family introduced him to the computer game “Plants vs. Zombies,” as they are friends with the creators and had them over for dinner one evening.
“I can mother him all I want, but having peers you learn so much more,” Toby Librande said.
Although the experience was rewarding, she said it was also hard to say goodbye to Ishizuki.
“I thought it would be like having a guest but it was more like having a new son in the house,” she said. “So that’s been the pleasure and the surprise. … To send him all the way back to Japan, it seems so far.”
Pham agreed that bonding with the exchange students is one of the most important parts.
“(Urakawa’s) our fifth Japanese student and for all the students it’s just our role to be (their) family,” she said.
Australian students will arrive in Milpitas in December through the exchange program.
Contact Shannon Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-262-2454. Visit us on our social media sites
at facebook.com/milpitas post and twitter.com/milpitaspost.