For a Japanese exchange student, this summer meant experiencing a different way of life!


Meet Mika, she is a 14 year old Japanese girl who spent a month of her summer in America on a 4-H international exchange program from Tennessee.

Mika stayed with the Holt family on their farm in Dresden for about three weeks.

“She has a sweet nature and it was definitely a fun experience for us,” Ellie Holt said.

“It’s very interesting. And I had a wonderful time,” said Mika Hayashi.

Ellie Holt worried that it would be difficult for Mika to come from a big city to a farm full of animals, “Well, I was a little worried…I was worried that she was a little overwhelmed with the size of our family and how loud it was,” she said.

The seven children of the Holt family say it took time for Mika to feel comfortable with animals: “She was a little afraid of the horses, she didn’t touch the hedgehog, the rabbits, she immediately loved rabbits…I think she’s still afraid of horses,” the Holt kids said.

The Holts showed Mika what life on a farm in West Tennessee was like: “On the farm, we still have our chores that we have to do every day. So we were that she helped us to feeding the animals, getting water for the cows, and we did a lot of gardening…we tried to go see a lot of things just a little bit locally. We went to the discovery park. We’re going to go in a state park,” Ellie said.

While the Holts shared their life with Mika, she shared some of her hobbies and culture,

The Holt children said: ‘I like what she showed us, calligraphy, it was fun. And she showed us how to make Origami. We learned a lot about, I think just his culture. We’ve listened to a lot of his music now. We learned a little Japanese.

Mika won first place at the County Fair for his origami at the Weakley County Fair. And wowed the Holts with her cooking skills.

Andy Holt said: “She basically cooks every night with our family. But she chose one night to cook us a meal, a traditional Japanese meal. And was it good. »

Andy Holt wanted his children to see that not everyone lives the same way: “We think it’s important for them to see other people. And the fact that all the kids are homeschooled and living on a farm in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of siblings. You know, there are people who have different lifestyles from ours. And even if they’re different, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong, you know?

The Holt children formed a bond with Mika, “She’s kinda fair our sister now, I don’t know if she thinks that but I think that,” they said.

And Mika agrees that the best part of her journey was the relationship they formed, “the friendship,” she said.

For Mika and eleven other students from Japan, those weeks in Tennessee represent a lifetime of memories.

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