Ever since the reception, where we, the American TOMODACHI participants, saw our Japanese counterparts for the very first time since their departure from Washington, DC, the anticipation for the home stay portion of the program had been at an all time high for everyone. When the time had finally come to go to our host families, we followed our host brother or sister to our host home.
When I first arrived to the house I would now call my home, I was extremely excited, but also very nervous in fear of making a careless mistake. I walked into an aroma of fried foods. My host mom greeted me as if I was her long lost child who had returned home. She gave me a tour of the house, showed me my private bathroom, and showed me to my rooms (I had two), which were both incredibly relaxing. After getting settled in, I washed up and prepared for dinner, which was fried pork cutlets with white rice of course, and miso soup. That night, we got to know each other and I was delighted to find that I had a family who appreciates music as much as I do. My host father arrived during dinner and embraced my presence just as my mom did. I figured that then was the perfect time to present my gifts, which were a framed picture of my host sister and I, and an engraved snow globe expressing my gratitude. They loved the gifts and displayed them on the living room mantel.
The moments shared upon my arrival to my host home shaped the unforgettable experience that was in store with my host family. We learned a lot about each other from their occupations and my aspirations to our favorite sodas. Over the short period of time that was spent together, we bonded enormously. Because of our bond, however, it made it almost impossible to say goodbye. This only goes to show that beyond the language difference between my host family and me, we were able to connect on a level that is ultimately unbreakable, regardless of the distance between us. This teaches me the importance of connection because with the connections formed in just 3 weeks, come friendships that last a lifetime.