A 5th grade parent reflects after Capstone

There is a well known belief in American culture that grown men are not supposed to cry. But I have to admit I was holding back tears as I watched my daughter’s host sister crying because her new friend and “sister” of one week had to leave. Every parent is proud of his child, but to have the opportunity to watch as she directly experiences the culture and language she has been studying for the past 6 years, and to witness the bond between her and her host sister - it was an experience that will stay with me forever.

Our trip to Japan was one of a lifetime and an experience that I know my daughter will never forget. After sightseeing for the first week of the trip, I had the opportunity to meet Elisabeth’s host family and see the school where she would study for the next week. As I gave my 10-year-old a kiss goodbye, it struck me that she was on her own for the next week and so was I. Cell phone in hand, I told her to call or text me any time she needed me. Three days later I got my first call: “What are you doing, Dad?” I told her that I was about to have dinner with a family friend and she responded, “Okay, I will make it brief.” (Can this possibly be my little girl, who sounded so confident and grown up?) She proceeded to tell me that she and her TIS classmate Kilian had given speeches in Japanese in front of the entire host school (500 students). I couldn’t help but think that there is not a snow ball’s chance that I could have pulled that off at age 10.

I know for certain, had I been able to extend my daughter’s stay in Japan, she would not have hesitated for a moment. She was in her element and loved every minute of it.

The amazing teachers at TIS have brought my child to this place, where she can experience, learn, bond and even give a presentation to an audience of 500, all in a language that is not her native tongue. There are not enough words in English to communicate my respect and gratitude for all of the Japanese track teachers that have taught Elisabeth over the last 6 years.

When you choose to give your child a bilingual education you know that you are giving them a great gift for life. But the thing that I did not see as clearly until the Japanese Capstone is how much easier it is for them to accept and be accepted in another culture. The confidence that Elisabeth and Kilian showed on this trip was truly amazing, as the adults followed them through the train stations and not the other way around. I only wish our trip could have lasted longer.

Matt Schweitzer
TIS Japanese Track Parent
5th & 2nd grade

Click here for the complete Japan Capstone blog.