MOUNDRIDGE — Two Moundridge High School students are going to Japan this summer as foreign exchange students.
Kira Jackson, 16, and Emma Green, 15, are sophomores at Moundridge High School — and best friends.
"We just like to hang out together," Emma said. "What's really special about us as friends is we don't have to go out and do a big activity, we can just sit in a room and talk to each other."
Both girls share an interest in Japan and decided to apply to a Japanese foreign exchange student program at the same time.
"I've been studying the Japanese language for a while," Emma said.
"(Emma) has a very determined personalty," said Emma's mother, Lori Green. "If she has an interest, she will pursue it."
Kira and Emma found out on the same day that they had been selected for the Japan America Friendship Scholars program.
"We both messaged each other and it was special moment for both of us," Emma said.
Both Emma and Kira will be exchange students for six weeks in Japan over the summer, as the country's students go to school all year long.
Kira said she is excited to go to Japan — and to take her first airplane flight. That yearning for new experiences is something the Moundridge student wants to build on as she moves into adulthood.
"I think people need to experience other cultures and languages in order to apply real-world knowledge in their careers," Kira said. "We have to go outside our comfort zone to realize there's more to the world than small-town life."
Neither girl knows what city in Japan they will be sent to yet, but that detail does not concern them. Both are more concerned with being able to learn the country's customs.
"I'm just like really open to new opportunity and seeing the world," Emma said. "Since I have this opportunity, I'm excited for this experience and to have a new adventure."
"She's ready to go," Lori said. "...She sees it as a life-changing opportunity."
To earn money for the trip, Kira works in purchase order acknowledgment at The Bradbury Group in Moundridge.
"For someone her age, she is really after it," said Kira's mother, Lisa Vogts. "She got the job two weeks after she turned 16."
Emma is also trying to raise additional funds for the trip to Japan by doing what odd jobs she can outside of school.
Both of the girls' mothers admitted to being a little anxious about their daughters traveling overseas.
"From a parent's perspective, six weeks is a long time," Lori said. "...(But) I'm very excited for her. I think she will handle it well and learn a lot from it."
"I'm looking forward to forming life-long friendships with my host family and classmates," Emma said.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.