School Trip

When I was growing up in Kansas, every year the school district would select about 20 to 30 elementary students at the fifth grade level to travel to Japan for a foreign exchange program. I was fortunate to be one of the students from the entire school district to be selected to go. The purpose of the exchange was to improve relations between my hometown and our sister city in Japan. Japan would also send students to the United States. My family hosted one student which improved my chances for being selected. Also, when my school principal asked for volunteers, I made sure to shout “yes!” After being selected, I traveled to Japan with the student group, and stayed together with two different host families along with another student from my school named Mike. The first family made a very strong impression on me. They lived in the countryside near Kofu on a small farm. The house they lived in was a Japanese style, two story house with sliding doors. I was amazed because the house had a large garden which I didn’t expect because we were told that most homes don’t have big yards in Japan. The family consisted of a father, mother, two sons, and a daughter. The sons were about the same age as Mike and I. The daughter was a few years younger. The boys were really sociable and fun to hang out and play with. The boys spoke some English which helped us to get along. They also loved to play video games which was great because it was winter time and was so cold outside! The daughter was very cute and just a little bit naughty. The parents were both extremely nice. The mom cooked all the meals and tried to get us to try real Japanese food like dry seaweed and steamed white rice. However, one day when I was not feeling well, the mother worried that I was homesick so she took me to McDonald’s. Afterwards, I felt better and really appreciated her kind gesture. One day, Mike and I were fortunate to be able to go to school with the two boys. We practiced some Japanese calligraphy together and played some soccer with some other boys. Overall, my trip was very exciting, made me enthusiastic about one day returning to Japan, and left me with a very favorable impression of Japanese people and their families.

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