After the long plane ride, we had finally arrived. We found our way around and finally met with our host families.
I was very scared that I would have to speak strictly Japanese, but my host family Mama spoke and understood English pretty well, which helped me a lot. Going to the house I was staying at was very different in my eyes. The furniture, shower, and bathroom were very foreign to me. I also enjoyed it very much though, because it was nice to experience a completely different lifestyle.
While we were there, I got to do a variety of things that I never thought that I would ever be able to do. I learned a lot about the relationship between Honolulu and Nagaoka, as well as what is being done to keep the peace alive today. I loved meeting the kids from the middle school and hearing what they had to present to me in my language. I think it is amazing that my own personal lantern will be sent out in August about what peace means to me. It was also an amazing opportunity to meet other Japanese students in exchange programs, coming together from different schools to travel and learn about other places.
Overall, going to Japan was a life changing experience. I didn’t realize how little I knew about the world around me, until I got the opportunity to travel and learn about it. It was amazing being able to experience how other people live and to see how there are actually completely different types of traditions and ways of life. I would love for other people to get this opportunity, or at least learn more about the peace being held between Nagaoka and Honolulu.
Jaida Burgon, Kaiser High School