Tenaj’s Homestay

I had a magnificent time with I.Y.., my host sister. Her family was so amazing and so giving. I had to stay at I.Y’s grandmother’s house because I.Y.’s home was far from her school. When I arrived at I.Y.’s grandmother’s house, her grandmother gave me a gift. She gave me two necklaces and there were both handmade. They are very detailed pieces and I felt special because her grandmother doesn’t really make jewelry anymore. I.Y.’s youngest sister made me a welcome poster even though she wouldn’t be there to meet me. Her grandmother couldn’t get over that I was much taller than I.Y. Her grandmother’s home was beautiful even though she didn’t think so. She had a traditional room with tatami flooring. I.Y.’s grandmother always asked me if I was hungry and tried to feed me all the time, even after I was finished eating. I thought it was funny. She reminded me of my mother. She is always trying to feed people even when they say no thank you. Her grandmother spoke a little English as well.

I went to visit I.Y.’s home in Guma Prefecture. I.Y. has a beautiful home. Her home is more modern than her grandmother’s home. They had a room with tatami flooring honoring her father’s parents. I met her sister there. I.Y. has three sisters just like me (one difference is my younger sisters are younger than the two younger sisters. I also met her father. He didn’t speak English even though I. Y. told me he could speak a little English.

We went to a mall by their house and went shopping. I.Y.’s older sister brought me some eyeliner which is awesome. I loved staying with I.Y. and I plan to go back to Japan to visit them again. Maybe when I graduate high school.

Tenaj Gueory
McKinley Technology HS

November 19 – Fishing in Minami Sanriku

Today we went to a local fishery in Minami Sanriku. Minami Sanriku is located in Tohoku and was the hardest hit by The Great East Japan Earthquake. 95% Minami Sanriku was destroyed and more than half of the population was lost. The fishing market was also devastated. Nearly 90% of the commercial property was lost and all ports were lost as well.

We went fishing with a local fisherman named Mr. Marouk, who was just elected as the city councilman. Going out to sea was fantastic for the first time. The fisherman told us how great the water had been since the tsunami hit, which was pretty weird at first. Then he explained when the tsunami hit it was like it cleaned the banks. That is good because it helps the taste better and is better for the environment.  We had a chance to taste Hoya and Oysters fresh out the ocean. I tried the Hoya and Oysters but they were very salty.

As we were going out to sea, the fisherman told us how hard it is living in Minami Sanriku after the earthquake and tsunami. He explained that they need younger people to help out in the fishing industry because they are getting older and need the younger generation to help them. Without the young people helping Minami Sanriku, fishing ports would be on the edge of shutting down because the fisherman do not have any help. He said the children graduate from college and want to go to the city for more opportunities and to fulfill their dreams.

Once we got back to land we had a barbeque and ate the food we caught. Mr. Marouk told us what happened to him and his family when the tsunami hit. He said after the earthquake hit, 30 minutes later the water started to draw back. He took his family to high ground and then took his boat out to sea. He came back on a lifeboat. Once he returned to his family, he made them move to even higher ground. He had a feeling the next wave would be even higher. Once he and his family reached the top, the second wave came and it covered the place where they had been before. He made a quick decision that saved his family’s life.

He also talked about “Omotenashi” which means hospitality in Japanese. He wants people to come and visit Minami Sanriku not to see how the people were devastated but to learn about their culture and take great experiences back home.

Tenaj Gueory
McKinley Technology HS

Our Keio Class Presentations

Being at Keio was a great experience. I had an awesome time getting to know the other students. I made a great friend. His name is J. and he asked me so many questions about politics in Washington, DC which I thought was different at first. Then he explained that he wanted to be the Prime Minister of Japan. Then it all came together. We really had great conversation and I really miss them all.

While learning about Keio we also had to present to different classes, so they could learn some things about Washington, DC. Presenting to the classes in Japan was awesome, especially with the older students. We could relate more and understand each other better. I presented with Jatalia aka Talia; we were like the super pair. We helped each other out when needed, finished each other’s sentences, and also had a great time with the students. Talia talked about music. She talked about J Pop and the students weren’t expecting it at all. They were so surprised. The looks on their faces were priceless. She also talked about Rock, Heavy Metal, and Gogo. She played a video, “Welcome to DC,” which is a gogo song very popular in DC, and the students seemed to like the song. They were bopping their heads.

I talked about my friends and some of the popular schools in DC. I talk about my school, friends, and family. The students couldn’t believe how big my school is and that I have two friends and both of their names are China. I enjoyed myself and Jatalia also had fun as well. We talked about the presentations all the time.

Tenaj Gueory
McKinley Technology HS

Arrival

Yes, we are here. It took about 15 hours with a layover in California but we made it to Japan. The airport wasn’t very lively like Dulles. Instead it was formal, everyone had on a uniform. Even the people who taxi the plane had on uniforms which was very interesting. The signs leading us everywhere were in English, like the signs to customs and baggage claim. We got to customs. We had to give them our passport. They took a picture of our face and then asked for our finger print. They gave us a stamp and a sticker in our passports. Then we were on our way to baggage claims to get our bags. OMG! Something is wrong. Only two people (Jatalia and Rebekah) have their suitcases. We had to fill out papers describing what our bags looked like and what was inside. Then we were on our way to meet Sosha.

After we met Sosha we had to catch a train to get to our hostel. We went to dinner and had authentic Japanese food. On our way I noticed the train station had vending machines and snack stands! However amazingly there weren’t many trash cans and it was so clean. It was astonishing! The people were also very quiet on the train. My first day in Japan is a memory that I will never forget.

Tenaj Gueory
McKinley Technology HS

Tenaj’s Summer Reflection

I had an amazing summer! I learned so much about myself, my culture, my city, Japanese culture, and how accepting I was to new things, with the help of six marvelous Japanese students. We traveled all around DC, and we saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. Through this experience I have learned so much about myself and faced so many challenges with my new friends (good and bad).

We built friendships that will last a lifetime. It took some time for me to get used to all the questions they asked. They were very observant which I loved. They made me think to myself and then I went home and asked my parents the same thing. We all had to think but we came to a great conclusion. I learned that I was more accepting then I thought I was and more open as well. They really opened my eyes to a new world and perspective on life. I feel like we have known each other forever because we bonded so well, it’s just amazing. We haven’t even known each other that long. During those two weeks and a half we really learned the true meaning of TOMODACHI (friend).

We did so much in just two and a half weeks. By the time I got home I was ready to pass completely out, which was great because it meant that I had an awesome day of learning and having fun all at the same time. I didn’t know I could do so much in one day. We all felt that way. Each day was a different learning experience. We visited so many places and met so many people. I really had a fantastic time at Words, Beats, and Life, Latin American Youth Center, walking downtown, going to the different museums because it had been a while since I have been to a few of them. One place we visited was really touching for me even though I had been there plenty of times, The Holocaust Museum. This time we had a small group tour and I really got to understand the Holocaust more in depth. I just wanted to cry because the facts were disturbing. I am glad we got past that. I really had fun at Words, Beat, and Life. I really liked doing graffiti and djing

We did a lot this summer. We had a lot of good times and a few bad times. I remember when we were at Catholic University and some of us were falling asleep and the guy kept telling us to get up. He was getting very frustrated with us because what he had to say was so important for us. We went to United Way to learn more about volunteering and did some service work. When it was time for lunch we had pizza and the Japanese students couldn’t believe how big the pizza was. Most of us had two to three slices except for Chiro and he had nine slices. We couldn’t believe it at all. We all jokingly said he was American because the way he ate.

This summer was the best summer ever. I will always remember it because it was very unforgettable. I hope to travel to Japan when I get older to visit some of my great friends. I love these guys so much!

Tenaj Gueory
McKinley Technology HS
Washington, DC