My experience at the US-Japan TOMODACHI youth exchange program was just simply the greatest time of my life and it will be a piece of me for the times to come.
Our program started with the visit from ‘G,’ a slam poet, and began the shortest 2 weeks of my life. During the program, we not only visited traveler’s sites like museums and national memorials, but we also had the chance to explore the whole city of D.C. With the tour around the city and having a chance to home stay, I saw a different side of D.C that I never thought they had. Before attending this program, I only saw D.C as the home of the White House. But throughout the 2 weeks stay, I found out that D.C was a very diverse city and only a fraction of it showed the image of the White House; which came out to be the biggest surprise of my stay.
Although I enjoyed every part of the program offered to me, I loved being able to do ‘un-normal’ things. Without this program, I would have never taught elementary students Japanese, or experience any forms of hip-hop. I also enjoyed being ‘different’ from others. In Japan, I believe that everyone feels the need to have similar opinions with others, and are afraid to be different. But this program helped me revive my confidence on being different. Throughout all the discussions, it was interesting to see how each and every one of us had a different perspective towards the same thing. Simply being able to hear another person’s opinion and being able to express my own opinion itself was a great experience to have.
Again, my experience with everyone I met and everything I have done with them, was the greatest experience of my life time. All the friends I made there will forever be my friends. In a world where everything is connected, I think this exchange program gave me the most important thing to be connected to. Not Wi-Fi nor facebook or twitter, but GFFs, Global Friends Forever. I am blessed to be able to meet everyone that I met, and would like to enlarge my circle of connection.
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School