Participants on the 2016 Michigan-Shiga High School Exchange recently began their journey in Japan! Mr. Kunio Ouellette and Mrs. Kathy Kinkema, the two chaperones in Japan assisting our students, wrote about their fun-filled first full day abroad:
We had a fantastic start to our trip – our stay the first night was restful and the kids were up and ready to hit the ground running! Breakfast was mostly traditional Japanese food so the kids were able to try many new things. Fish, pickled daikon, miso soup, rice as well as yogurt, salads and much more. We encouraged them to try small portions and then go back if they enjoyed it. The potato steak fries were a hit (only after they tried everything)! I love how adventurous and curious they are. They have asked great questions, participated in some great discussions and experienced many things culturally already.
After breakfast we went to the Board of Education ceremonial room to meet with Governor Mikazuki, Superintendent Aoiki and other Board of Education members. The meeting was a great success. We were all a bit nervous but the governor made a wonderful speech in English and made the kids feel at ease. We were even on the 6pm news that night from what I hear.
Our trip to Mt. Hiei and Enryakuji Temple was beautiful. We learned a great deal from the Buddhist monks, lit some incense and rang the temple’s traditional bell. The weather was surprisingly cool up in the mountain and the humidity gave a slight hazy look through the trees, giving everyone a very calm and peaceful feeling. It was very nice.
After lunch at the Rice Plaza we went to the Lake Biwa Museum and learned a great deal about the ancient Lake Biwa: its environment, fish and wildlife. It was very interesting, but all the kids wanted to do was see their host families – the time had finally come!
We were greeted warmly and everyone gave speeches in both English and Japanese even though we were quite nervous about it. Our host mothers and host fathers gave speeches in English to welcome their new host student. As you can see from all of the smiling faces in the pictures, everyone went off happily to get to know each other and start their adventure.
Until next week,
Kunio Ouellette and Kathy Kinkema
Chaperones, 2016 Michigan Shiga High School Student Exchange