Timaru District - Eniwa, Hokkaido Sister City Homestay and
School Visit & JR Rail Pass Trip
Tanoshikatta!!! Sugokatta!!! Mata Nihon ni ikitai!!!
Opihi College students, Louise, Lucy, Jessica, Aaliyah, Allicia, Emilie, Ava, school secretary, Mrs Walsh and Japanese teacher, Mr Lindblom spent three weeks in October in Japan. We spent the first two weeks living with host families and attending two high schools in Eniwa, Hokkaido, our sister city. We then activated our JR Rail Passes and travelled by Shinkansen train at 300kph to cultural highlights for an additional week. Some of our destinations were Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima and Tokyo.
"I think the purpose of this trip was not only to have the opportunity to use and better our Japanese communication, but to have the chance to experience many different things and appreciate a different style of life. It gave us a real understanding of the language and culture we are studying, all with making amazing friends and memories along the way." (Lucy) All of the participants have been studying Japanese for 2, 3 or 4 years and it was an opportunity to be exposed to language that's impossible to replicate in the classroom. While living with Japanese host families, the students got to see firsthand the daily lives of Japanese families. At school they observed classes, after school sports and cultural activities. They came to realise that while there are many differences in our daily lives, there are also many similarities to our school and family values. It was great to hear the students excitedly describe a new experience that they had with their homestay family or at school. There were of course communication problems and some homesickness, but that's to be expected and it's through the difficult situations that students rely on their resilience and work through their challenges.
"A definite benefit of this trip is that we gained valuable skills such as resilience, teamwork, and how to tackle any problem that came at us, such as getting around the daily language barriers." (Lucy) The students extended their knowledge of the Japanese language, but more importantly they experienced tangible Japanese culture that will give their future Japanese study real context. They grew in confidence and learned a lot about themselves and what they can handle when put in stressful situations.
We are very grateful to AsiaNZ and the Kewpie Corporation, the Sasakawa Fellowship Fund for Japanese Language Education, the Temuka Community Trust, Juice Products NZ and also the Temuka community who generously supported our many fundraising activities. Arigatō gozaimashita!