Yates County 4-H welcomes Japanese exchange student

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Keuka and Maihue Miranda Wiltberger with Yuka Kanamori (middle), a 12-year-old from Japan who is visiting the Miranda Wiltberger family.

Jeanne Wiltberger and Mario Miranda Sazo, from Penn Yan, along with their daughters, Keuka and Maihue Miranda Wiltberger have welcomed 12-year-old, Yuka Kanamori into their home for a one month stay this summer. The Miranda Wiltberger family is one of 16 New York State families taking part in this opportunity made possible through the 4-H Youth Development program.

The NYS 4-H Japanese Exchange program is an initiative of the New York State 4-H Office at Cornell University, in cooperation with County Cornell Cooperative Extension offices around the State. The 16 Japanese youth, ages 12-15, arrived at the Syracuse International Airport on Friday, July 21 and connected with host families from all corners of New York State the next day. The Japanese youth will stay with the host families who have a child the same age and sex until Aug. 17. New York is hosting nine Japanese girls, seven boys, and one adult chaperone. The 16 Japanese delegates departed from Syracuse Saturday, July 22, after an arrival and welcome event with the host families at the Embassy Suites in Syracuse. The host families are located in 14 New York State Counties from Western New York, the Finger Lakes region, the Adirondacks and the Hudson Valley.

The Miranda Wiltberger family has been busy getting to know Kanamori and showing her around Yates County and surrounding areas. They have enjoyed playing board games together, learning about origami, watching a local soccer game, and attending two area theater productions. The girls have also gone to the Windmill, visited local shops in Penn Yan, picked blueberries, and shared favorite foods and recipes; including pizza, BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, pancakes, a campfire with s’mores, and Japanese candy.

However, the highlight for Kanamori has been taking part in activities on the lake. She has been out on a boat, gone tubing, swimming, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Future plans for the summer include visiting Niagara Falls and Watkins Glen State Park. Both Keuka and Maihue Miranda Wiltberger have enjoyed hosting an exchange student and learning about another culture.

The New York State exchange program is supported by a National nonprofit organization affiliated with 4-H called States’ 4-H International, based in Seattle, Wash.

States’ 4-H International works with 4-H programs in nearly 30 states to coordinate inbound and outbound cultural exchanges ranging from one month to 10 months between 4-H youth and youth from Japan, South Korea, Norway, Costa Rica, and many more countries. The one-month summer Japanese program will provide an opportunity for nearly 700 Japanese youth to experience life in the United States this summer. For more information on the program please visit www.States4hexchange.org

The goal of the 4-H International Exchange program is to encourage participating youth to gain a greater understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity, global connections, and citizenship. 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, reaching over 6 million youth through a community of young people across the U.S. and implemented through the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture. The New York State 4-H program reaches over 170,000 youth per year, connecting them to hands-on learning opportunities in science, healthy living, civic engagement and agriculture and food systems. 4-H helps youth ages 5-19 from rural, suburban and urban communities grow into competent, caring, contributing members of society. 4-H programs reach youth in every New York State County and the five boroughs of New York City. For more information on 4-H Youth Development please visit https://nys4-h.org/.

For more information about the Yates County 4-H Program, please call Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County at 315-536-5123 or visit us online at http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/yates/ or on Facebook.

Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.