Photo booth with Heidi and other participants

A Day of Photos, Games, and Fun

Old shopping street in Omuta
Old shopping street in Omuta

I woke up this morning much earlier than I had wanted to, but no matter how hard I tried to sleep again, the bright sunlight outside greeted me and told me to get up. With another two hours until breakfast, I slowly prepared for the day: getting dressed, organizing my things, and learning another few Japanese words that I would soon forget. Just before breakfast, I walked into the dining room to be greeted by sleepy Otoha, my 7-year-old host sister. After a late breakfast of eggs, miso soup, and rice, it was time to start my day with World Campus – Japan.

We gathered at Eruru around 9 and after a short briefing about the upcoming event, we were off to the shopping street to set up for the fair. There were over a dozen high schoolers from the area that were there to help out and we all introduced ourselves before getting started. Of course, I forgot all of their names right after they said them. Paul (China), Jean-Michel (Luxembourg), and I were on yo-yo duty first. They arranged for half of us to have lunch from 11:15 to 11:30, while the other half stayed at the fair and had lunch from 11:35-11:50, but that definitely didn’t go as planned. I was in the first group for lunch but when we got there, we waited for our sandwiches and onigiri until 11:35 and so we had to bring the other group their food instead. But the onigiri was really good, so I’d say it was worth the wait.

After lunch, we moved to the photo booth, where we took pictures with all of the cute children that came. They also had mochitsuki, which is where rice is pounded to make mochi, which we all got to do. They told us to use it as a way to express our anger. I got to taste some of the mochi and it was very chewy, almost a gum-like consistency. In America, they fill the mochi with ice cream, but these were equally as good. My group was supposed to be on drink duty at the end, but no one was really buying drinks anymore, so we played ring toss with some of the other WC members. I haven’t laughed that much in awhile.

Sadly, around 2 pm, it was time to clean up. Shortly after, we had a guest speaker from Wales who came to talk to us about working in Japan. Almost half of the WCJ members were interested in moving to Japan to work. I was not one of them. Still, the presentation was very interesting, especially because he chose a different work route, rather than the usual English teacher. Once the presentation was over and we said goodbye to our speaker, the WCJ staff made some final announcements before the end of the day.

My host family picked me up and took me to see their grandparents who lived right next door. Of course, I had no idea what they were saying since my knowledge of Japanese is very basic. All I understood was when they asked me if I liked cats. From there, we walked home. Otoha fell asleep on the floor, my host mom went to take the dogs for a walk and my host dad came home. I hadn’t met him yet because he was out of town, so I did today. He speaks little to no English, which is hard for me since I speak and understand about the same amount of Japanese but we were able to communicate because Michael Jordan, a famous basketball player from America, came on TV. We finished the evening with oden and a few rounds of card games before heading our separate ways for bed.

Heidi Mencl
America