BSM welcomes Japanese exchange student


Jackie Bucaro

Shizuka Aita, an exchange student from BSM’s sister school in Japan.

Jackie Bucaro, Varsity Writer

Despite its relatively small student body, BSM’s community reaches worldwide, well beyond the borders of St. Louis Park or Minnesota and into Japan, where BSM’s sister school, Kaisei Gakuin High School is located. For one semester only, junior Shizuka Aita has travelled from Hokkaido, Japan to BSM as an international student. 

This is the first time Aita has visited the United States. The culture here is obviously very different from that in Japan, but she enjoys the difference. “Everyone [is]… friendly, and active… Japanese people [are]… shy, and quiet, so everyone’s so fun,” Aita said. 

In such a new location, the language barrier is extreme, especially considering the differences between Japanese and English. One of Aita’s main goals in coming to BSM for a semester is to improve her English skills. “Students, teachers [are] very kind… everyone helps me,” Aita said. 

Students, teachers [are] very kind… everyone helps me”

— Shizuka Aita

As is typical for international students, Aita is staying with a host family. In her case, it is Spanish teacher Mr. Matthew McMerty Brummer and his family. In this bilingual household, Aita is among children who also learned English as a second language. “I think that being around the little kids is probably beneficial. From my experience, most people are less intimidated to try a second language or a third language if they’re with children as compared to with peers or adults. Kids are less judgemental,” McMerty-Brummer said. 

Besides coming to a new country, Aita is also attending an entirely different school. Kaisei Gakuin has a much smaller student body than BSM, as well as a different class and schedule structure. “My school is only 200 students. Every class [at BSM] they [switch classrooms], but in Japan, we don’t move,” Aita said.

Aita is interested in joining sports and clubs at BSM, especially girls’ basketball. However, that’s not where her hobbies end. “I like talking with my friends. I like playing sports, and I like listening to music,” Aita said. 

Rather than staying contained in the BSM community, Aita has also gone out into the wider Minnesota community; namely, she attended the Minnesota State Fair. “So many people! And I ate state food,” Aita said. 

So far, Aita has found people at BSM to be helpful and kind. And it seems like the people she interacts with have a similar opinion of her. “She is very patient… with all of our little kids. She rolls with the craziness of our house… and Shizuka is very kind, very gracious… All the kids adore her,” McMerty-Brummer said.