Rydbergs look forward to Tamagawa students
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
Kevin Rydberg's family has hosted students from Tamagawa University in Japan for two years and plans to continue as a host family this year when students arrive in August.
Enjoying a cool treat -- Deidra Rydberg (center), joined by her two children Maesa (left) and Gannon, enjoy a treat outside with two exchange students from Tamagawa University in 2011.
"Hosting the students is the high point of our summer," Rydberg said. "Our kids enjoy it, and it truly is a great experience for the students and the families."
Students from Tamagawa University have participated in an exchange program with Dakota State University for more than 30 years. Through the program, students visit for two weeks to study conversational English and learn more about South Dakota culture and history.
For the Japanese students, a significant attraction to this program is the fact that they stay with Madison families. This aspect has also become a highlight for Madison families like the Rydbergs.
"They become part of the family," Rydberg said.
Host families are not required to have children or to be a married couple. The home stay helps students better understand the English language, American culture and South Dakotan culture by immersing them in day-to-day life. Families also learn more about the Japanese culture by hosting the students.
Rydberg said that two years ago, they took their visitors to a wedding. They've also taken the students shopping and simply done activities at home.
"The first few days are a little tough because they're struggling with communication, but it doesn't take long," Rydberg said, adding that the students have a special way of communicating with their children.
The Rydbergs have two children, both of whom are just as excited for the exchange program to take place.
Students spend evenings and weekends with the local families, which gives them time to not only learn about South Dakota culture but also to help families experience the Japanese culture.
In addition, the Tamagawa students prepare a program for "Japan Night" where host families, DSU instructors and interested local residents can experience even more Japanese culture. This year's "Japan Night" will be on Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Trojan Center.
For the Rydbergs, their friendship with the students did not end when the students returned to Japan. They've hosted four students so far and still communicate with all of them.
DSU International Programs Director Jacy Fry said this year, 17 students are coming to Madison, and two additional host families are needed for female students.
The exchange includes not only activities in the local area but also a three-day trip to western South Dakota. While the students have typically returned to Madison and left from the Sioux Falls airport, Fry said, this year the students will depart from Rapid City on Aug. 21.
While here, the Tamagawa students will visit Prairie Village and the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead in DeSmet. They will spend a day in Sioux Falls and attending a pow-wow at Lower Brule.
Students will also have the opportunity to design their own American menu, do the shopping and prepare a full traditional meal at the St. Thomas Rec Center.
Students are set to arrive from Tamagawa University on Aug. 3 and stay through Aug. 18. Anyone who would like to be a host family this year should contact the DSU International programs office at 256-5267 or e-mail the program director at email@example.com.
Students must have their own bed, breakfast and dinner provided, and laundry. Families will receive monetary compensation for hosting the student before the student arrives.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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