Since I came off the plane, people in Japan have been so wonderful to me. The locals have showed me where to go and how to get there even though communication has been difficult at times. I have come to realize how helpful the Japanese people really are. If you are in trouble or lost, they will find a way to help you regardless of any language barriers.
So far I have made many friends and I’m certain we will remain in contact long after this tour is over. I have also become really close with my host family, the Omori clan. They are the nicest people in the world. They remind me of my own family in the United States, always happy and joking around. They said that my roommate and I are a part of the family now, so we can ask and have anything we want. There are so kind!
One unforgettable memory that I have in this new world so far was visiting a forest filled with fireflies. They only light up for a short amount of time before they disappear. There was a pleasant summer breeze that only enhanced the serene atmosphere of that evening. It was such a beautiful moment in such a strange land.
However, the most touching experience so far for me in Japan was at a mentally handicapped facility in Ueda City. We played games with the patients, including with a small softball, soccer, and a number of other traditional Japanese games. I even tried walking on bamboo sticks, which is a lot more difficult than it looks. They gave us handmade origami to show their respect and happiness towards us. It was truly a moving and rewarding experience for all of us.
It’s only the beginning with so much more to come this summer!
(Egan Gibson – Thompson, USA)