Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2001

White spends summer in Japan learning culture

BHS student finds appreciation in Japanese tradition

August 29, 2001

Jennifer White came back from spending a summer in Japan not only having learned more about the culture, but about herself as well.

"It was a really big learning experience," White said. "It was very interesting."

White, who is a senior at Baldwin High School, spent June 26-Aug. 7 living with a family in Yokohama, Japan. She learned about the trip through BHS' Family Community Career Leaders of America program.

"The trip was just to go and see what Japanese culture is like," she said.

She was one of 20 students chosen from across the nation to make the trip, she said.

"They look at your character and if you are a model American citizen," she said. "They also see how you function in your own family."

In Japan, White stayed with the Kimura family who had two daughters, 17 and 19-years of age.

"They were just my age, which was really neat," she said. "I'm an only child, so having sisters was different."

White doesn't speak Japanese, so the language barrier was sometimes a problem, she said, even with her host family.

"The father and the grandparents couldn't speak English," White said. "The grandmother would come up and talk to me in Japanese. I'd feel bad because I knew she wanted me to understand."

The language wasn't the only thing White had to get used to.

"The food, it was not really good," she said. "I just expected all Asian food to be the same, like in a Chinese restaurant, but it's not.

"They eat a lot of raw eggs and that's just not something we do in America," she said. "And I lived in a port city, so we had a lot of fish and other sea creatures."

But White said she liked getting to know her host family and some of their traditions, including their Buddhist religion.

"The religion is very old," she said. "It was interesting to see stuff that's really old and pre-dates the Constitution."

She said she appreciated how Japanese tradition influenced their culture.

"America is very capitalistic and interested in personal gain much less than tradition or society," she said. "Japan is very traditional. Everything is done for the good of the majority, never for individual advancement."

Even though she learned a lot about Japanese culture and history, White said she thought most of what she learned was about herself.

"When I was there, it just kind of dawned on me, I just really like Kansas," she said.

"I'm right at the age where I'm getting ready to go to college and I don't know where I want to go or what I want to do," she said. "I now have a much better idea of what I want to do."

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