Three 9th graders live, study in Japan, Brazil & Iceland

Three freshmen have not only traveled extensively but also lived in foreign countries. Reporter Emma Brown talked to them about their experiences.

Zoe Dym

She is just like any other girl. She studies math, science and history in school, participates in activities and shops in her free time. But she does it all in Japanese.

Freshman Zoe Dym travels to Osaka, Japan, every summer to  attend public school and has since she was 7 years old.

Dym’s mother was born and raised in Osaka and attended college at Sacramento State University. She later moved to Honolulu, where Dym was born. After she was born, Dym’s family moved from Honolulu back to Sacramento. Her mom spoke Japanese as her first language, and so did Zoe.

“I couldn’t speak English until I was in kindergarten,” Dym said.

In Osaka, Dym studies for three weeks of the 11-month-long Japanese school program. She has attended Sayama Minami Chuugaku, a middle school, for the last two years.

“My mom’s family lives over there, so we want to see them every year. And also my family loves Japan,” Dym said.

Dym is the only American student at Sayama Minami Chuugaku, she said.

To keep up with the students in Japan while she is in school here, Dym studies the Japanese curriculum every Saturday. This includes math, Japanese, science and social studies.

Dym sees many differences between America and Japan.

“Here in the U.S., we have janitors clean the school. In Japan, students have to clean it themselves, and all middle schools and high schools have uniforms,” said Dym.

Dym said the children in her classes like listening to how well she can speak English. In her English class, the kids are in awe at how well she can pronounce words, even though they know she is fluent., she said.

Dym finds it funny when students in Japan try to speak English, because they can’t always pronounce the words or understand them..

Colby Conner

In third grade, freshman Colby Conner moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, for two years due to his father’s job with Monsanto.

Conner immediately experienced  an intense culture shock. He found the language barrier between English and Portuguese hard to navigate and the constant presence of crime unsettling.

Conner said there were many kidnappings, robberies  and carjackings. In Sao Paulo, people would hold others ransom in their homes, and pickpocketing was common.

There were huge walls surrounding his school, with security guards constantly patrolling.

However, Conner enjoyed the weather in Brazil. He said it was green year round and very tropical.

According to Conner, the other great advantage of being in the tropics was the fruit. There was guava and two kinds of banana (one tasting more like an apple than a banana), and other fruit was always on the menu.

Conner’s favorite drink was guarana, which is similar to ginger ale but with a more spicy flavor, like cinnamon and ginger.

Although he liked the change from California, Conner says he would not want to live in Brazil permanently..

Johann Dias

Freshman Johann Dias has been traveling to Iceland since he was in second grade. He has taken around 15 trips there. In sixth grade he stayed for a year.

Dias’s family owns a house  just five minutes from the capital, Reykjavik. His mother’s side of the family lives there, and he travels there to see them twice a year, for around three to four weeks each time.

While he was there, the sun rose at around 3 a.m., and set at around midnight, though it was usually raining or snowing.

Dias said the prices are much higher in Iceland, but it is also much safer than back home.

“A 3-year-old could walk out into the streets and not get hurt. If you were to leave your wallet out for 10 days it might not get stolen,” he said.

  In sixth grade, Dias learned a new game at the school he attended. The game is a festival held in honor of the Angel Mikael, who vanquished the dragon from people’s hearts.

During the annual weeklong event  students stay outside and compete every day.

The oldest kids are the “dragons”. Their job is to chase the younger kids around until they catch them, after which they bring them into the “dragon territory.”

“You would have to hide and make your own fires in order to stay warm because it was usually raining,” Dias said. “ If our friends got caught, we had to go into the dragons’ territory and steal a flag without getting tagged. If we got tagged we would be put in an inconvenient, uncomfortable place where we had to stay all day.”

The only time they would be on neutral terms was when the teachers would call everyone in for lunch.  Prepared for people to attack them, Dias and his friends would make stone borders around their territory, and throw sticks at people who disrupted them.

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