How to say thank you in a language you don’t speak.
At the end of every city, the participants alongside the staff put together a show to thank the community we are staying in for taking such good care of us. It consists of some cultural pieces from some of the included countries on the tour, as well as a few Japanese popular songs. The entire event is designed to be something for the host families to enjoy as a whole, from grandchild to grandparent. What the host families see are happy faces, good feelings, and hopefully a humongous sense of gratitude.
But to tell the truth; most of us are not on this tour so we can sing and dance at the end of each week. It’s easy to question why we have to perform in a thank you event at all. I mean; we’re all saving up money for quite some time, so we can travel through Japan and experience as much of its cultural life as possible. So when we are asked to learn a song in a language we don’t all speak, we’re not too excited. The first week is especially difficult as it is a lot of work.
We can endure a few hours, but when we practice that Japanese song that we really can’t pronounce the name of for the 12th time that day, it’s just plain old tiresome work.
But then, when the first event day finally arrives, what happens?
We get up on stage, and try our best, even though we have an extremely busy schedule and are tired already. People who would normally never touch a microphone go up front, have fun and sing in Japanese complete with sign language movement! Is it because a bearded Norwegian staff member asks so nicely? Or because Hiro, the CEO, gave a clever speech about how important the event is for the communities?
Personally, I’m sure we do it for the people who pick us up every day, and let us relax for the rest of the evening when we come home tired. The same people who invited us into their families and make us delicious meals. It’s those faces we see smiling back at us when we look out from the stage during a performance. It’s the voices we hear cheering when we do our parts in the event.
If the host families and the wonderful local community did not enjoy the performance, the participants would definitely not be trying as hard. It all comes down to this being a way for us to express our gratitude for all that the community shares when we are visiting for a week or so.
Suddenly, all that effort that we put into it has a whole different value. And it becomes a lot of fun! So I sincerely hope that the host families will keep on enjoying the show for many World Campus — Japan tours to come, because I know the participants and staff will be there to put our hearts in it and make it grand.
(Henning K.W Rodtwitt, Production Assistant Summer tour 2008, also known as the Bearded Norwegian Staff Member 🙂 )