March 10, 2019

Capstone 2019: Meeting the Host Families

Post by TIS Parent, Bill Andrews. 

I wasn’t in Japan when my daughter met her host family two years ago, but I met them at the end of homestay and saw the bond that they had formed in one short week. So I knew that there was nothing to worry about – my son would meet his family, they would hit it off, he would go off to have a great experience and come back safe and happy in a week. I knew that – or so I told myself as we waited in the hotel lobby. But as we waited on one side while the host families slowly gathered nearby everyone – me included – started to get anxious. Some of the kids got very quiet and tried to hide; others were bouncing off the walls. Parents tried to calm them down while keeping themselves ready to say goodbye for a whole week.

Finally everyone was ready and we faced each other in two wary lines. We bowed to the homestay coordinator to thank her for her work after she and Taka-sensei each said a few words of introduction. Then each child was called up one at a time to introduce themselves to his or her hosts. My son seemed to be permanently attached to my leg but he told them his name and asked them to treat him well (a common phrase when meeting someone for the first time).  His host father was short and introduced himself as an older brother rather than the father – a hopeful sign that he would share my son’s sense of humor. They asked Liam if he was worried about anything and he admitted that he was concerned about food; they had him list the Japanese foods he liked and reassured him that he would have plenty to eat. A few more polite exchanges and suddenly it was time for them to leave, seven kids and their parents putting on brave faces and trying not to look back. A few minutes more and it was time for us to go too. We spread out across Tokyo to wait and see how our kids would be changed by their Capstone experience.