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Japan Welcomes Georgia 4-H'ers

While the world is coming to Atlanta for the Olympic Games this summer, a group of Georgia 4-H'ers will be going the other direction.

They will travel to Japan July 16 to Aug. 14 as part of the 4- H/Labo Exchange Program.

Applications are being accepted right now, said Greg Price, a 4-H specialist with the University of Georgia Extension Service. Your county Extension agent has the forms, which should be returned by March 1.

"The 4-H/Labo in Japan Summer Homestay Program offers young people the chance to discover for themselves the secret behind modern Japan," Price said.

"They can see how its centuries-old customs have combined with the cutting edge of modern technology to produce this traditional yet vibrant country," he said.

The Labo International Exchange Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has been organizing in-Japan homestay experiences in partnership with 4-H since 1973.

In Georgia, it is coordinated by the UGA Extension Service through its 4-H program, which is the largest youth program in Georgia with nearly 200,000 members.

While staying with host families, the Georgia 4-H'ers will attend Labo Club meetings, an International Youth Symposium and attend a four-day Labo Camp.

"There are five Labo Camps throughout Japan," Price said, "and their rural locations give students the opportunity to see what life is like in the Japanese countryside.

"Thatched-roof farmhouses, kimono-clad farmers using centuries-old techniques to harvest rice, cascading waterfalls and fruits drying in the sunshine are common sights in rural Japan," he said.

During the summer, homestay activities will be as varied as the host families themselves. School will still be in session when they arrive, so the Georgians will have a chance to visit a Japanese school and meet the students and teachers.

When school is out, they will go on outings to local scenic and historic sites, learn traditional Japanese arts and enjoy other popular summer activities.

"But most important," Price said, "the Georgia 4-H'ers will be members of their host families.

"They will see how Japanese families live, what they eat, where they sleep and what they do in their spare time," he said. "They will have a unique insight into the lives and values of today's Japanese young people."

For more information about the 4-H/Labo Exchange Program and an application form, talk to your county Extension agent.

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