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West View students spend an hour in Japan

Without ever leaving the comfort of their own classroom, some sixth graders at West View School took a trip to Japan last week. Courtesy of a special 4-H program, the hour-long lesson about all things Japanese had kids cooking a delicious stir fry meal, writing the name of their school in another language and learning about cultural diversity.
Connie Goff Sharp, UT Extension Director for Washington County, passed around rice paper, origami paper, Japanese fans and other items she had received from a Japanese student she hosted during a previous summer.
Sharp shared stories about Japanese traditions, explaining that the color red is used in most Japanese artwork as well as its flag because it means “happiness” and “love.”
She explained that Japanese school children rarely do house work because they focus so strictly on their studies and even talked of a popular snack in Japan.
“They eat seaweed like we eat potato chips,” she told the children. “It tastes like fish and it has a lot of protein and fiber in it.”
During Wednesday’s lesson, three of the students learned to cook a special recipe that Sharp’s Japanese exchange student taught her. All the children then sampled the Ramen Noodle Stir Fry, which featured noodles, lettuce and a small amount of ham.
“Usually it is served with some type of fruit and tofu for extra protein,” Sharp said, explaining that meat is not a major part of the Japanese diet due to limited land space to raise such farm animals.
“They eat a lot of fish because they are surrounded by water,” she said.
Sharp, along with 4-H program assistants Juanita Miles and Barbara Nuckols, will travel to other middle schools throughout the county to teach more students about Japan. Each year, the program focuses on a different country. Last year, students learned about Germany.
At the elementary level, the program focuses on table etiquette and proper food portions.