Several students took the time to write about their homestay experiences:
I was very excited to meet my homestay and go to Takadai Elementary School. On our second day, suddenly, it was five o’clock, and we were changing clothes and getting gifts ready for the host family in our hotel room. We went down and met the host family in the lobby. I say goodbye to my parents and went with the host family. We got in the car, and in a few minutes, we were at their house. The next day, we rode a train to a bear park and fed the bears! We also went to JIgokudani hot springs in Noboribetsu. On Monday, it was the first day of school. I visited Takadai Elementary School for four days, and I made many friends. On the last day of school, everyone was very sad. We all said goodbye, and I promised to come back again.
On the first day when I met Kana, I felt really nervous thinking of what I was going to do that week. Next day, I went to the Salmon Museum with my homestay, Ayana, and her hoemstay. We got to let tiny baby salmon in a small river. It was really fun seeing tiny fish in a tiny cup and let them go. After that, we went to a candy shop which I bought a lots of candy! I love candy, so buying candy with my friends made me feel comfortable and made me feel safe. Overall, the next week came so fast. A time that I like most was playing"rock, paper, scissors." It was really sad saying goodbye to everybody. All in all, this experience made me know and learn Japanese people’s lifestyles are FUN!
I was very nervous, but everyone at the school and at my homestay was nervous too, so that made me feel a little better. Everyone was really nice. The thing I will remember the most was the last period on our last day at school, we were having fun but then everyone started crying even though we had only been together for four days. It was really heartwarming. Taka-sensei said that in his 7 years of coming to this school, he had never seen a group react like this. They sang us a song that they had been practicing for the sixth graders’ graduation ceremony, and part of the song was about "being under the same sky, but still being connected,” which made many of us cry. That was really nice. I was really motivated when I saw what the kids at both schools that we visited were able to do in art class, and it made me feel like I could do it too. Someday I would like to go back and visit all the people that I met.
A parent's perspective:
Bill (Kate's dad):
The night before Capstone was a tough one at our house, as I’m sure it was at others. But when we met Kate’s class at the airport in Portland and I watched her with friends she has known since preschool I knew she would be OK. And when I saw her again eight days later in Chitose I could see that she had changed. She was more self-assured, more at ease with strangers, more willing to make small talk in Japanese. She had formed strong relationships with her homestay family. Her host’s four-year-old sister played with her like she would her own sister; her mother took pride in the things Kate had done, the food she had tried, the things she had said like she would in her own daughter. They welcomed Kate into their community and made her feel at home five thousand miles away from us.