Our International Club


Kanori Watanabe

International Club at the Trampoline Park

Between academics, social life, and extracurricular activities, daily life at school presents many challenges. Imagine facing these challenges in a new country surrounded by a new language and new people. Our international students do that everyday. The international club is a community of students at Juan Diego who spend their school years in the U.S., far away from home. The club allows students to connect with each other by hosting events relating to their culture, and taking trips around Utah. 


Adjusting to life in the U.S. is very difficult. “Sometimes it is hard for me to stabilize my mental health just because I’m so far from home,” said Kanori Watanabe. Watanabe is from the countryside of Toyama, Japan. “It’s quiet and safe, and they have even better sushi than Tokyo.” She describes Toyama fondly, saying that “they have almost the same climate as here, actually.” 


Yiwen Wang, on the other hand, is from the large city of Beijing, China. Wang chose to come to Juan Diego because he “learned from the school’s official website that the school’s art courses are very unique, which is very suitable for me because I am an art student.” Watanabe points out that “JD is the only high school I could find with an international adviser at (the) school.”


Juan Diego’s international program advisor, Mr. Hoshino, was born in Japan, but he grew up in Utah. “I went to both Murray High and Waterford when I was (younger),” he shares. “I then went on to get my degrees in Exercise Science, Business, and Japanese from BYU.” Mr. Hoshino was surprised when he ended up as the adviser for the internation

International Students at a Football Game (Kanori Watanabe)

al program. “I initially came on just to help, but quickly fell in love working with (the) students and staff.” Though being an international advisor is a demanding role, Mr. Hoshino “thoroughly enjoys the array of challenges and demands it presents on a daily basis. My role is quite complicated, but I basically serve as a liaison for all parties involved in supporting our students.” He assures that  “everything we do is to make students feel welcome, safe, loved and supported while they are here with us.” 


The goal of the program has been progressively fulfilled in the last few years. “If there was only me, as a person from another country, at school, then I would feel isolated, not part of a community,” Watanabe says. “But I do feel like part of a community because there are so many international students.” 


Wang feels a sense of belonging as well. “The teachers here are very enthusiastic, and the students are all very nice.” She feels like part of a community when she “works with student government, talks with my other international friends, and talks to Mr. Hoshino.”

The international club facilitates several activities for the students. Wang shares that “we have traditional festivals and celebrations of different countries.” Watanabe mentions how “we have retreats often, like we went to Moab last year for two nights.” Watanabe shares the adventures that she’s had in the U.S. thanks to the program: “I went on… a hot air balloon ride last year, and this year I got to go kayaking in Las Vegas.”


My family actually hosts Watanabe this year and has been by far one of the best decisions we’ve made. The exchange program is something that almost everyone can participate in and if you have that opportunity, take it. School is hard enough for our exchange students, take this chance to be a friendly face.