Volunteering at a Day Camp. The Japanese teens spent time at a local day camp. They taught American kids origami, how to write their names in Japanese, and a popular Japanese dance.
The Teen Panel. We had a question and answer session and found out teens on both sides of the Pacific have similar interests in books, (Harry Potter), and movies, (Harry Potter and Pirates of the Carribean). The most popular question on both sides was, "Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend. The most interesting question I heard was when one of the Japanese boys asked my daughter if she liked him. (???)
The Car Wash. Our Japanese students, (most of whom were here on scholarship), worked hard on a hot day to earn money for a scholarship fund that was set-up by their Japanese agency, to send teens from the United States to Japan. Then they wrote letters to their new American friends telling them why they should apply for the scholarship and come to Japan.
But my all time favorite moment came at the end of the Sayonara Party. It was also one of my proudest, and saddest moments.
The Japanese students worked hard all that day, cooking food and preparing a program for their host families and the American kids who had spent time in class with them. They did such a great job! The food came out delicious and the program was amazing.
At the end of the program they performed a dance to "Aitikata" a song by the Japanese group AKB48. The students had practiced their dance over and over again. (So often that I can almost sing all of the words.)
Still, I wasn't expecting what I saw.
It wasn't just the boys who came out in skirts, (which, by the way was laugh out loud funny!) It was when they did their encore and they pulled all the American kids up to dance with them. For the length of a song they were all united and laughing and having a wonderful time.
And when it was over we all cried.
The words to the song mean something like "I want to meet you," or "Come join me, I want to spend time with you." After all the time the Japanese kids and the American kids had spent together, it felt like a fitting message and a fitting ending to the whole experience.
Since the moment speaks better than I could ever explain it, here's video that was taken from the end of our Sayonara party.