Some of Japan’s most promising youth, currently young students at the country’s top academy, recently visited BYU. Camera flashes flickered all over campus as the indelible memory of the BYU experience, American students and Christian culture was impressed on their minds and memory cards.
Each year, one of Japan’s most prestigious secondary schools, Nishiyamato Gakuen, sends a group of about 200 ninth-grade students to the United States to learn about American culture and to perfect their English. These annual trips include a few days at BYU, and since their academy focuses heavily on the sciences, a visit to the Eyring Science Center (ESC) is a must.
The students shot each other with the ESC’s air cannon, tried (without success) to lift a “piece” of a neutron star, and participated in a chemical magic show. One of the BYU student guides, Kyle Nelson, said that the Japanese students loved playing in the ESC.
“They were laughing and oohing and aahing at everything that happened,” Nelson said. “It was fun to see them.”
These 15-year-old students were here to refine their English, but they didn’t just practice conjugating verbs. Their tour of Utah would entertain any teenager. They met BYU’s baseball team, visited the Hill Air Force Base and learned about American college life.
Sharon Meyers works with BYU Conferences and Workshops to help give Nishiyamato’s students the best experience possible. She said when she hears from the students and the school after their trip, they always say the highlight is the time they spent with BYU students.
“They’re destined for college. College is their future — college is what they want to be. That’s as far as they can see, and now they’re spending time with [a college] student,” Meyers said. “They’re feeling hopeful and excited, and they’re seeing their future.”
Meyers also said these students are expected to become world leaders. Although LDS missionaries may never have a chance to teach them, she said she believes their eyes are being opened to the quality of BYU and the power of the Church.
“They’ll never forget these young [BYU students], and this energy and enthusiasm that comes from the BYU student — it’s unique,” Meyers said. “They will always remember this place. It puts us on a radar that I don’t think we could get on any other way.”