By Gillian McTaggart, Revelstoke Secondary School
Last April in Ono-Cho, Japan, myself and a group of 11 other Revelstoke Secondary School students found ourselves warmly greeted by the students and families of the suburb of Gifu City, Japan. The flashy signs screamed our names and called us over as if we were already family.
My sister and I were given the incredible chance to stay with two Japanese families for two nights each. They fed us traditional Oriental cuisine, took us shopping in the local supermarket, and taught us to speak a bit of Japanese. The hospitality we were shown was like nothing we had ever experienced before, and we appreciated the willingness of the families to help us learn and experience Japanese culture.
When the day came for the Revelstoke Secondary students to part with the families we had grown so close to and learned so much from, it was a difficult goodbye to make. Myself and the other Canadian students and teacher chaperones boarded the bullet train at Shinjuku station, and departed for the very short, fast ride to the nation’s capital.
Tokyo Disney, the first stop in the big city, was an amazing experience for all of us, and our teacher chaperones may have had the most fun of anyone. Tokyo Skytree gave us the view of a lifetime — the whole city from 634 metres in the air.
It was truly the greatest week of our lives to be able to experience firsthand the incredible Japanese culture, schools, language, art and so much more.
Now it’s time for Canada to welcome the annual visit from the students of Ono-Cho, Japan, who arrived on Thursday, February 12. The inbound teenagers will have spent four days in our beautiful city, improving their English skills and exploring all that Revelstoke has to offer.
My family and I are lucky enough to be hosting two girls from Ono-Cho, who will have stayed at our home for five nights. Izumi (Izu) and Kaai will learn about Canadian history and culture, visit Revelstoke Secondary School and participate in a wide range of winter activities such as skiing, sledding, and more.
The volunteer families that are hosting Japanese students this year are forging new relationships and friendships, strengthening Revelstoke’s ties with our Japanese sister city.
When asked about her favourite part of the trip so far, Izu replied “The welcoming families,” and Kaai answered similarly with “the kind people.” Other visiting students gave different answers as well, such as the food and the school tour.
All hosting families will try to fulfill the wishes of each student and what they hope to experience and try here in Canada. We in Revelstoke welcome all of our Japanese friends to our beautiful city, and we hope they experience the best parts of Canadian life. On behalf of the students and staff of Revelstoke Secondary School, I would like to wish these students an enriching journey, safe travels home, and we hope they share their stories with family and friends in Japan.