“They did very well,” Shiga said.
Randi Stavrou experienced the kindness of a stranger when she almost got bumped off a train they were riding on. The group said that although the trains were crowded, people were polite and respectful in ways they don’t experience in the United States.
“There’s a sense of greater good in Japan. It stems from the culture. The general standard for living and behavior is much higher,” Kevin said.
“It’s all about perspective. You go to a radically different place, and it gives you a different perspective you didn’t have before. It makes you grow faster.”
Grant learned from the experience of being in the minority.
“It definitely showed us how it feels to be a minority. I think the Japanese are more open to minorities than we are. They accepted us better than we accept most minorities here,” he said.
The consensus was that all five wanted to learn more Japanese, although they’re taking the highest level of Japanese offered at Boonsboro High.
Sam Trujillo said she hadn’t traveled beyond West Virginia and Hershey Park in Pennsylvania before the trip. Although she was nervous about going to Japan, it opened her eyes to the world outside of Boonsboro, she said.
“It just taught me there’s a lot more in the world than we’ve experienced here,” she said.
Jacob now wants to travel more and return to Japan for college.
“It taught me to seize every opportunity that’s available,” he said.
“It makes me want to pursue a career in international law and travel more to experience other cultures, not just Japan, but China, Russia, India and Europe,” Randi said.
For Shiga, it was watching the smiles on the faces of her students, the confidence boost in their Japanese skills and their ability to get around in Tokyo, that made it all worthwhile.
“That was the reward for me,” Shiga said.
To watch the parade
The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade will be broadcast on ABC7/WJLA-TV. For more information, go to www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.