Japanese child visits city through exchange program

By Julie Fann

The world might be small to Carter Countians, but, to the rest of the world, Carter County may be "wonderland."
   This summer, from July 24 through Aug. 19, a native of Kamakura, Japan, located just one hour south of Tokyo, visited Elizabethton. Satomi Kida, 12, came to America through a program organized by 4-H Clubs.
   "In Japan, when children are born, their parents set up a fund for them so that they can experience American life," said Kip Anderson, a sixth-grade math teacher at T.A. Dugger whose family hosted Satomi during her visit.
   Satomi will return to her hometown on Aug. 19, but she got a chance to meet T.A. Dugger Principal Regina Cates, and to tour the school to get a glimpse of what education is like for American kids.
   Though she speaks fairly fluent English, Satomi was shy while she described her experience in America. Coming from a family of two children, Satomi's brother also visited Elizabethton two years ago.
   Satomi referred to Anderson as her "American Mama" and, as Anderson spoke for her, she mentioned several sites she saw during her stay.
   "We went to Gatlinburg, ice skating, Grandfather Mountain, Creeper Trail and Carowinds," Anderson said. Satomi's favorite American food, she confidently said, is "barbecue."
   The Andersons also took Satomi to Watauga Lake and to an Elizabethton Twins baseball game. In Japan, Satomi said she enjoys swimming, volleyball and soccer.
   Anderson said Satomi cooked Japanese food for her family during her visit.
   "She made Teriyaki chicken, and we ate it with chopsticks, but she had to use a fork," Anderson said.
   Satomi has enjoyed spending time with her American brother and sister, Wes and Arin Anderson. Anderson said it was her daughter's idea for their family to host a foreign student.
   "My parents participated in it when I was growing up, and I just remember it being a good experience," she said.
   The family had to go through an application and interview process, which Anderson said took almost a month.
   Satomi will return to Japan with approximately 20 other students on Monday. The group will meet in Knoxville and begin their journey home.
   "The way they (foreigners) view the United States, it's like a wonderland. We need to view the United States, and other countries, as a wonderland," Anderson said.