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For one Japanese exchange student, this summer was all about experiencing a different way of life!


Meet Mika she is a 14 yr old from Japan who spent a month of her summer in America through a Tennessee 4-H international exchange program.

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

"She's got a sweet nature and it's just really been a fun experience for us," said Ellie Holt.

"It's very interesting. And I’ve had a wonderful time," said Mika Hayashi.

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

The seven Holt family children say it took some time for Mika to be comfortable around the animals, “She was kind of scared of the horses, she didn’t touch the hedgehog, the rabbits, she loved the rabbits right off... I think she’s still scared of the horses," the Holt children said.

The Holts showed Mika what life on a farm in west Tennessee is like, "On the farm we've still got our chores that we have to do every day. So we've been she's been helping us feed the animals, get water to the cows, and we've been doing a lot of gardening….we've tried to go and see a lot of the the things just kind of locally. We've been to discovery park. We're going to go to a state park," Said Ellie.

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

The Holt children said, “I like what she showed us, the calligraphy, that was fun. And she showed us how to do Origami. We learned like a bunch about like, I think just her culture. We listened to a bunch of her music now. We learned some Japanese.”

Mika won first place at the county fair for her Origami at the Weakley County Fair. And wowed the Holts with her cooking skills.

Andy Holt said, “She cooks basically every night with our family. But she did choose one night to actually cook a meal for us, a traditional Japanese meal. And it was 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 not every kid is homeschooler that lives on a farm in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of siblings. You know, there are people that live different lifestyles than we do. And even though they're different doesn't mean they're wrong, you know?”

The Holt children have formed a bond with Mika, “She's kind of just 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 trip was the relationship they formed,“friendship,” she said.

For Mika and eleven other students from Japan, these weeks in Tennessee add up to a lifetime of memories.

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