NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - This week McMichael Middle School in Nacogdocheshad a few more students than usual.
Lunch time at McMichael middle schoolmeans students refueling for the rest of the day taking a break from classes andcatching up with friends, this week 13 Japanese exchange students joined themhoping to soak up the American culture.
"I want to study English more,"said Mei Mori, Amami Exchange Student.
The exchange program started in 1995every October students from Amami come to Nacogdoches and in May Nacogdochesstudents visit Japan.
Exchange Sponsor Laurie Gallant says havingthe Amami students on campus gives her students the opportunity to interactwith people from a different culture.
"It just makes the world a little bit bigger,puts a face for a country," said Gallant.
Each student has a host family duringtheir time here, 8th grader Grant Watson and his family are hosting Tomoya Inazwa,
Both of the boys say they are discovering thedifferences and similarities in Japanese and American cultures.
"They don't walk in the housewith shoes on," said Watson.
"McMichael has a cafeteria but Japandoesn't have cafeteria," said Inazwa.
Gallant says broadening their horizons now mayhelp students figure out their futures.
"Many of our students that go toJapan realize that I like the travel, I want to do international business,"said Gallant.
And help students realize even thoughthey are raised thousands of miles apart they can always find a common ground.
"American student, Japanesestudents many times act very much alike, they're not as different as we think,"said Gallant.
The Amami students are leaving Mondayafternoon, they will spend a couple of days at Disneyland before heading backto Japan.