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Japanese Exchange Students Studying At McDonogh Head Back Home

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. (WJZ) — It’s the last day of class for a group of Japanese exchange students.

Gigi Barnett reports as they head back to their homeland this week, they won’t leave empty handed.

A Japanese song of friendship was sung to students at McDonogh School in Owings Mills.

The Japanese students have spent the last couple of weeks at the school.

They started their exchange program 10 days after the earthquake and tsunami struck their country.

“I wanted to stay in my home. But my mother said Tokyo and Japan are so dangerous, so you should go to America,” said Miharu Akagi, Japanese exchange student.

Akagi is one of eight Japanese students and two teachers to come to the U.S.

They’re part of a 20-year-old exchange program between their high school in Tokyo and McDonogh.

This year, in addition to sharing their culture, they told stories of the destruction in Japan and the constant threat of a meltdown at a damaged nuclear power plant.

“When the swaying started, I thought, ‘Ah, here it comes again.’ But it was longer and bigger. So scary,” said Yuusuke Kaneko, Japanese exchange student.

“Nature is a very powerful force, even to a very strong country with a great infrastructure. They’re not immune. It’s amazing,” said Daniel Kershner, McDonogh student.

Shortly after the earthquake and tsunami, the high school in Japan called every one of the exchange students and asked them if they still wanted attend. All of them said, “yes.” This was a chance to tell their story.

“We, including the students, have come here to tell the McDonogh students and the American people that Japan is in a bad situation, but we are going to restore,” said Mr. Yagi, Japanese exchange teacher.

The McDonogh students decided to help and raise money as their new friends head back to their homeland.

“They’re really good friends, and we’re so happy that we had a chance to meet them and hang out with them,” said Claire Sinnot, McDonogh student.

After weeks of fundraising, McDonogh students collected more than $10,000 to send to the Japanese Red Cross.

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