Wisconsin Exchange Program Week—Part One

Note: This entry is split into three parts. See parts 2 and 3 for more.

From Friday February 8th to Friday February 15th, eight students and two teachers from Wisconsin were in Tomiura. Tomiura JHS has a sister school in Wisconsin, and every year the schools have an exchange program. Last year, Tomiura students went to Wisconsin, so this year, some Wisconsin students came to Japan. All of the Wisconsin visitors did homestay with a Japanese family—the students with a Tomiura student, and the adults with a Tomiura staff member.

It was a long week. So many things happened and I traveled to so many places for work… By the end of the week, I was exhausted. I worked for twelve days straight, since I had to work on the weekend as well, and some of those days were over 10 hours!

I’ll be honest, I had a lot of trouble writing this entry, which is why it’s so late. For this entry, I wrote a few drabbles. Enjoy!

Preparations

The JTE that organized the exchange program was very stressed out in the weeks leading up to the Wisconsinites’ arrival. The female Wisconsin teacher and I e-mailed back and forth. She said that the organizers always fret about the exchange, but everything always turns out fine. Even if it doesn’t go exactly according to plan, the students have fun and they will never forget the experience. I decided to trust her experience. Whatever bumps we encountered, we could deal with.

During the week, there were very few bumps. It was a lot of fun! I had some great experiences. Like…

Saturday—Katsuura

Even though it was technically a three-day weekend, I “worked” and accompanied the Wisconsin teachers on their sightseeing trip. On Saturday, everyone spent time on their own with their host families. My JTE, the two Wisconsin teachers, Kyoto-sensei, Kocho-sensei, Saito-sensei, and I went to a farmer’s market in Katsuura. We found some pretty interesting things.

Like a giant fish head.

Like a giant fish head.

As we walked, the Wisconsinites were forced to eat free samples of some nasty fish. The woman who offered us the fish said that if the male teacher didn’t like it, he didn’t have to finish it. She just wanted to see the foreigner squirm.

A handcrafted wooden dragonfly. It balances perfectly!

A handcrafted wooden dragonfly. It balances perfectly!

And then we saw a gorgeous beach. The water was beautiful.

And then we saw a gorgeous beach. The water was beautiful.

 Sunday—Kamogawa Sea World and Strawberry Picking

On Sunday, we went to Kamogawa Sea World. It was a great day—the weather was nice, which was good, because when we saw the whale show, we sat in front.

WHALE. I hid my phone when they came near us, though.

WHALE. I hid my phone when they came near us, though.

Kyoto-sensei and I got soaked. It was awesome. Later, the male Wisconsin teacher noticed that you could buy whale meat, and he said, “I guess it’s revenge for getting you wet.”

And then I adopted Humphrey!

Humphrey is my Valentine~<3

Humphrey is my Valentine~<3

At noon, we left Sea World and went strawberry picking in Tomiura.

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It was awesome! We just got to walk around for an hour, picking strawberries, dipping them in condensed milk, and eating them.

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We also drove past some famous rice fields. They’re famous because there are probably one thousand of them.

Monday—Tokyo

On Monday, we went to Tokyo. We wandered around a temple in Asakusa, and I had to be the tour guide for the Wisconsin adults. I helped the male teacher pick out an anime gift for a friend, and even though I was surprised with the hosting job, I think it went all right.

We took a ride on a water bus, and then somehow I made it all the way up Tokyo Tower before remembering that I’m terribly afraid of heights.

So this is the only picture I took, because I was too terrified to go near the windows.

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Tokyo Tower--view from the ground, where I like to be.

Tokyo Tower–view from the ground, where I like to be.

A fountain in the Asakusa temple area.

A fountain in the Asakusa temple area.

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This view is famous, because you can see these three famous buildings from this one spot.

This view is famous, because you can see these three famous buildings from this one spot.

A Week at School

From Tuesday to Thursday, we had some special classes for the Wisconsin students. They made paper cranes and fancy sushi rolls, wrote calligraphy, and arranged flowers.

On Wednesday, the boys went to PE class and the girls went to math class. The math teacher was nervous, so I went to his class. He had an interesting lesson about the Four Color Theorem.

One of the girls complained about having to be in math class. This girl had been getting on my nerves—all of the Wisconsin students were delightful, but this girl was rather rude. Finally, I snapped at her.

Me: “Would you rather sit in the conference room by yourself?”

Girl: “Yes, actually.”

Me: “I can arrange that. Should I go get your teacher and tell her that you’d rather do that?”

Girl: “…No.”

That’s what I thought.

We also went to Tateyama  castle on the top of a hill

We also went to Tateyama castle on the top of a hill.

View of Tateyama and Tomiura from Tateyama castle.

View of Tateyama and Tomiura from Tateyama castle.

The Cha-Cha Slide

On Thursday, the Wisconsin students gave a presentation about their school and themselves. They included a dance that I’d never heard of—the Cha Cha Slide. They were all surprised that I had never heard of it, because it was super popular at school dances.

I looked it up later and realized why I’d never heard of it—I was both too young and too old. It came out in 2004. I was in high school, so I didn’t go to school dances. And as for the teachers who knew it, well, they were teachers at schools where it would be played.

Continued here.

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4 Responses to Wisconsin Exchange Program Week—Part One

  1. Pingback: Wisconsin Exchange Program Week—Part Two | The Grand Adventure of El

  2. Pingback: Wisconsin Exchange Program Week—Part Three: Lost in Translating | The Grand Adventure of El

  3. Kim says:

    AAAA so many new posts to comment on!

    Osenmaida (the thousand rice paddy place) is REALLY cool in… fall? I think? They put torches ALL over the fields and light them up at night and it looks AMAZING. if you ever have the chance you should go see it!

    Yes… some of the Wisconsin kids were ASSHOLES. I loved most of them, but a lot of the boys when I did it were tossing trash all over the busses and just generally being jerks so I got them in trouble with their head teacher and they got the shouting of a lifetime :D

    • Haha, yeah sorry about that. So many posts…

      Whoa! I definitely want to see that. That sounds awesome! O:

      The kids this year were pretty great–I mean, they said some stupid things that kids say, but they were really polite! Except for that one girl. And she did get shouted at, which is why later, when I was talking to that second year and messing around, I got yelled at. The JTE said that since the girl got yelled at by her teacher for being obnoxious, we shouldn’t let our students be obnoxious. Heh.

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