Heading to the Orient


Traveling from North Zulch, Texas, to Japan isn’t something most 15-year-olds dream of.

But Mackensi Green isn’t like most 15-year-olds. The North Zulch freshman partnered with an organization called Youth for Understanding and will spend six weeks in the foreign country beginning June 17.

She doesn’t speak Japanese and has never even flown on a plane by herself.

“Of course I’m nervous,” she said. “But I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. It’s an amazing culture. The shock of it will be the best part.”

Green, who is raised by her grandmother Jerri Barnett, played volleyball and basketball this year and is currently working as the softball team manager. She said she’s been watching YouTube videos to learn more about what to expect in Japan.

“I’m most excited about going to school and seeing the sights,” she said.

Green will live with a “loving host family,” and though she’s not made contact with them yet, she expects to soon.

The teen, who grew up in North Zulch, wants to study psychology at the University of Berkeley in California. She said she became interested in world travel through geography class.

“I want to broaden my horizons,” she said. “I’m excited.”

Green will spend the next couple of months trying to learn a new language. She said she’s grateful that her close friends encouraged her to pursue the opportunity – but she’s not sure why she was selected.

“Maybe passion and drive,” she said. “You have to be independent.”