May Snyder has been welcomed to the community of Nakusp as the latest participant of the Rotary Exchange Program.
Snyder hails from Japan. Her hometown is the city of Nobeoka, in the Miyazaki prefecture, Japan’s version of a province, in the country’s southern-most island.
She will be staying with four different families during her time in Nakusp.
This isn’t Snyder’s first time in North America. Her father is from Colorado, and she’s visited the United States a couple of times.
She got involved with the Rotary Exchange Program through her doctor, who is a Rotarion.
“It was my dream to travel abroad on exchange while I was a student,” she said.
“He called me up one day and said ‘There’s a Rotary Exchange Program, and they have an opening. Do you want to apply?’ I said yes, and that’s kind of how this all started.”
The process was started in September of 2014. She took an exam, and in November of that year, received the news that she would be going on an exchange program. From there, she had much paperwork to fill out, including getting a passport, and filling out a visa. The whole process was completed in May of 2015.
Coming to such a small town was very different for Snyder. Nobeoka’s population is around 127,000.
“I love it. I actually prefer small, cozy towns.” she said.
She hasn’t experienced much of a culture shock. One thing that did surprise her was how welcoming people have been.
“They interact with you more than you expect. I really like that. It’s welcoming and warm.”
Something very different for Snyder has been the school system.
Back in Japan, school starts at 8:20 a.m. and goes until 5:30 p.m. After that, she would have basketball practise until about 8:30. She would get home around nine, eat dinner, do her homework, and go to bed, normally around 11:30. If she were studying, or going through a test period, she’d be up until 2:30 or 3 a.m.
Not all Japanese students have such a rigorous schedule.Snyder’s academic program is a little different because she’s an honours student.
She had three types of Japanese classes, two different math classes, and three scientific courses, physics, biology, and chemistry. Chemistry is a must, but students are able to choose between physics and biology, as well as between Japanese history and geology. Besides those, everyone is in the sname class.
Here, the school system is a little more liberated.
“I like it because you get to choose your own courses, and we never have that in Japan. You get to manage your own time, and I think that’s really important growing up.”
Snyder has also gotten involved with a few extra-curricular activities.
“I’m currently on the volleyball team, and I’ll be on the basketball team. I might be on the ski team, I’m still figuring that one out.”
Once she’s finished with the exchange program, she plans on going back to Japan to graduate from school. Once she’s graduated, she plans on attending university in the United States, and has already started applying to schools. Her focus will be on genetics and behavioural psychology.