Friday, March 21, 2008
Now it’s our turn to host our Japanese friends
I am very excited to be on the hosting end of the Shiroishi/CCHS band exchange. Many of the students from Japan participated in the joint concert last year when the Concord-Carlisle Concert Band went to Japan, so it will be great to see all my overseas friends again when they arrive in Concord next week. I have been in contact with my host sisters and they have told me things they would like to do when they visit America. Being 17-year-old girls, they are both very interested in shopping and going to an American mall (though they will be surprised to see how small it is compared to the mall we went to in Japan).
Sampling American food
Besides shopping, many of them want to try American food, such as a hamburger, or French fries, or pizza. The pizza I had last year in Japan was pretty similar to ours except it had corn on it. When the Sapporo Shiroishi Symphonic Wind Ensemble (SSSWE) students arrive in Concord, they will have been in the U.S. for a couple of days, so they won’t be as jet-lagged and tired as when we first landed in Japan. We arrived at the youth hostel at about 10 p.m. Japanese time and woke up at 7 a.m. to get to the welcoming by the vice governor, followed by an afternoon rehearsal with the SSSWE kids. When the SSSWE students get to CCHS, they will be greeted by all the host families and anyone from the community who wants to join the welcome.
The next few days will be filled with lots of introductions, smiles, looking up words in Japanese/English dictionaries and long band rehearsals. The host students will be taking the Japanese around school after a special assembly for the CCHS juniors and seniors. The Shiroishi Wind Ensemble will perform for half the school in preparation for their performance at All-State on Thursday. They will then get to experience a typical American school lunch and go to their host siblings’ classes. Then there will be rehearsals for both bands every day until the concert at Boston’s Symphony Hall on March 28.
I can’t wait until they come, just like I couldn’t wait to take the 13.5 hour trip to Japan. Everyone in the band has been anticipating and preparing for our guests’ arrivals. We have been selling Symphony Hall tickets, practicing our simple Japanese phrases, getting home-stay gifts and getting out the chopsticks. (Personally, I have been using chopsticks a lot more since I went to Japan.)
Some students have already hosted Japanese students this year, when a delegation of ten students came in October from Nanae, Japan. My sister and I hosted an eighth grader, which was a very different experience from when we hosted a junior in 2006. The students who hosted the kids from Nanae have a bit of an advantage because we know what they are interested in and how to communicate with them. I noticed that many of the Japanese students from both Nanae and Sapporo can write and understand English better than they can actually speak it. For example, if I asked them if they were hungry, they would be able to say yes or no. But if I asked what a Japanese word meant, they may have trouble saying it in English or describing in English what the word meant.
I am very excited to see all my friends from Japan again and be able to communicate through the language we all know as music. Music really has no borders, and to play in a joint concert twice in my high school career with a band from half way across the world has been an unbelievable experience that I will carry with me forever. ∆
© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito