Sam Mahdad has befriended a girl who can't easily keep up a conversation with him.
But that hasn't stopped them from becoming friends and learning about each other's cultures and traditions.
"To be honest, it's kind of difficult, but we found a way to communicate with one another, and in doing so, I feel like we're really good friends now," said the 16-year-old Huntington Beach High School student.
For the past two weeks, Sam has played host to Hikari Suzuki, one of four students from Anjo, Japan — Huntington Beach's sister city. A few words in English here and there, gestures and Google Translate have helped a lot, Sam said.
The three other students — Aya Sugiura, Saki Ota and Namiko Nogawa — stayed with three students from Marina, Ocean View and Edison high schools. There's also Tamami Suzuki, the students' chaperone, who stayed with Barbara Smith, a volunteer with the Huntington Beach Sister City Assn. that's been running the reciprocal exchange program for 29 years.