GREAT EXPERIENCE: Jennifer, Justin, Oliver, Caitlin and Jessica Rofe, with    Hiroka Hondo .
GREAT EXPERIENCE: Jennifer, Justin, Oliver, Caitlin and Jessica Rofe, with Hiroka Hondo . Contributed

Moving experience hosting Japanese student

YEPPOON State High School welcomed 20 students and two teachers from their sister school in Japan, Wako Kokusai High School, last month.

Japanese students attended regular classes, such as physics, maths, English and agriculture, to improve their English communication skills and immerse themselves in authentic Australian school life. Wako students also visited Yeppoon Primary School and St Ursula's College to share their inter-cultural experience.

The visit was a resounding success. Opening homes and hearts to an international visitor can be challenging.

Jennifer and Justin Rofe and their three children, Oliver, Caitlin and Jessica, shared their experience as a first-time homestay family for male Japanese student, Hiroka Hondo.

Asked why they became a homestay family, Jennifer and Justin said their children had been learning Japanese at school, so they thought the experience would encourage them to think of the world as a bigger place and see how important other languages are.

"Australia is so isolated from other countries, so to speak every day to someone who speaks a different language to us was a truly amazing experience,” Jennifer said.

"We watched the night sky, went kayaking on the ocean and we also went to Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary, where he [Hiroka] held a koala and fed the other Australian animals,” Jennifer said.

They said the most valuable thing about hosting a Japanese exchange student was being open to new and unexpected experiences.

"Opening your mind to learning about a culture that is very different to our own and realising just how lucky we really are in Australia.

"The rewards from this extraordinary journey have been tremendous for our family and we would highly recommend others trying this experience for themselves.”

The Yeppoon SHS annual visit from Japan concluded with a lot of emotional tears to say 'sayonara'.

If you are interested in hosting an international student or would like more info, phone Natalie Salisbury 49251333.