Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by tripwire45, Feb 5, 2004.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    That's my 15 year old daughter's new home starting March for an eleven month stint. Let me explain.

    About five years ago, my daughter discovered a Japanese cartoon called Sailor Moon. Ok, it's hokey but she was only ten. As time passed, she became more interested in Japanese anime and then Japanese manga (comic books) and finally Japanese culture and language (she's a real language whiz...whenever her Mom or I need to know what something says in Hebrew, we go to her).

    She started doing a lot of research on Japan and even started studying some of the language (they have four separate alphabets). At one point, she mentioned that she'd love to be an exchange student to Japan. Both my wife's parents and mine hosted kids from other countries. I was an adult when my parents did it but my wife was around the age my daughter is now when the hosted a kid from Brazil. I mentioned all this to my daughter and remembered that AFS is supposed to be the best organization to go through. When my daughter and I were having this conversation, we were sitting at a computer so we looked AFS up on the internet. Turns out you can send in for an application right there so what the heck. I still wasn't taking it all to seriously.

    The application came and we filled it out. Then somebody ended up coming to our home and talking about Japan and what it took to be an exchange student (you don't actually "exchange" anyone). It started getting more real and I started gettng more scared.

    I thought it wasn't going to go for awhile. My wife and children are Jewish and we keep Biblically (though not rabbinically) Kosher which means among other things, no pork, shellfish (or anything else that lives in water without fins and scales) and such on the dinner plate. Turns out the Japanese chapter of AFS is really picky. They don't like to place kids with Japanese host families that will be any kind of burden including kids with special dietary needs. We figured that was that.

    AFS here kept cranking away at the process and at one point, the US West Coast rep told the Japanese chapter that the only reason they were refusing to do a placement is that the kid wouldn't eat shellfish or pig. Guess that made an impression.

    Just when I was gettng complacent, my wife gets an e-mail in her account last night from a Japanese woman introducing herself as Jamie's host mother. She got a little ahead of the game since AFS is supposed to do the initial intro. I walked into the study to see what my wife and daughter were all excited about. My daughter jumped up at me to give me a hug and practically jammed her teeth into my chin.

    I can't believe it. I don't know whether to be excited or depressed. My little girl is going to live with strangers halfway around the world in a country where she doesn't speak the language (except for the odd phrase here or there). I haven't been separated from her for more than a week or two since she was born and now she's going to be away from home for almost a year.

    You'd have to be a parent to understand this part. It's not that I'm a total control freak, but I like to know where my kids are when I go to bed at night. It bothers me if they're still out, even if I know exactly where they are and who they're with. I keep trying to frame this as my child going off to a grand adventure and that is true. But I'm still really, really going to miss her.
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  2. flex22

    flex22 Gigabyte Poster

    Nice one.
    What an experience for her, hope she has a great time.They say going to Japan is the nearest you can get to travelling to another planet, without actually leaving Earth :P

    We used to ahve exchange students when I was a kid.
    Spanish, French, and American.

    They never spoke hardly a word of English lol, so don't know how it ever worked.We did manage to understand a bit of what the Amercian was saying though, LOL :!: :P

    Such a great experience though, learning about different cultures and different languages is so cool.

    Of course you'll miss your daughter trip, and I can't think what it must be like from parents perspective, but it's a unique opportunity.

    Fortunately communication is so much better these days.There's video mail and all that these days, so it won't total lack of communicsation, but still ahrd I realise.

    Hope it goes well.
  3. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

    I can imagine it will be hard, i was lucky to have quite e hefty ammount of freedom during my teenage years (hell i started work at 14 ;) i can see how it will be hard though, my mother gets worried still when i go diving, especially if im abroad when it happens, keeps thinking im going to get bent or something, and 11 months sounds like a long time, I hope your daughter has a great time, and i'm sure she will be fine, where abouts in Japan will she be staying?

    I've never been an exchange student, but I have been traveling independantly since i was 15, I must of been to over 30 countries by myself now, i find its a great way to meet new friends and really get a feel for the culture than if you go with your family to a holiday resort somewhere that everyone speaks english :)

    Good Luck, and dont worry too much ;)
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  4. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Don't know where in Japan yet. We just got the e-mail from the host Mom last night and my daughter called the local rep right after that. We're still waiting on the "official" word with all the details.
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  5. AJ

    AJ 01000001 01100100 01101101 01101001 01101110 Administrator

    Trip, the mind bloggles. Thank goodness my daughter is only 9.

    Don't think I could cope with that just yet.

    My thoughts are with you.
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  6. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    The big news in my house is that we received the "official" package from AFS about my daughter's Japanese host family. It's a Mom, Dad, and teenage daughter. They live in Chiba prefecture (a regional area that's analogous to a county or state) in a suburban community about 25 miles (40 km) east of Tokyo.

    My daughter is thrilled out of her mind. She's taking the packet to school today to show all her friends. We looked up her high school and I've been looking around at various maps. We checked out what the typical weather would be like and I'll be scouring the Internet to gather more details about her environment.

    The Dad is a veterinarian and the Mom is an accountant. The Mom is also a piano teacher. The family is musical which is great since my daughter plays violin and percussion (I know...strange mix). The Dad unfortunately smokes but the family says they can accomodate a student who dislikes smoking (hope this means he smokes outside).

    Her school will be offering a sanctioned trip to Seoul, South Korea in November so she'll get to visit there as a sort of "bonus". I have to say that I'm still simultaneously thrilled and terrified. It helps to see the photos of these people and read the description. My daughter e-mailed them and she just got a response from the daughter. Tough to work through the broken English but she seems pretty friendly and excited. Sounds like the daughter may be considering becoming an exchange student herself.

    I looked up the high school my daughter will be attending again this morning. The site is in Japanese so all the text is just a bunch of symbols but I did find a photo of the school uniforms. I printed off a copy and put it on my daughter's bed. I'm kind of getting a kick out of her having to wear a uniform to school. :wink:

    I looked up the official sites for the prefecture she'll be living in and the city she'll be living in. The city puts out a periodic newsletter in English that's available as a pdf download. The newsletter talks about events in the city and such. I guess because they're so near Tokyo, they get a lot of international students there. I've found a fair number of references to this plus the addresses of about 2 dozen youth hostels nearby.

    I'll keep you posted as further developments come in.
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  7. wizard

    wizard Petabyte Poster

    I think it's a great idea, it'll be the opportunity of a lifetime for her. The furthest I went as an exchange student was to France.

    11 months can be a long time, but in this age of the internet it won't seem that long.

    Yes, keep us informed. :D
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  8. Jakamoko
    Honorary Member

    Jakamoko On the move again ...

    Trip, my wee one is only 5 (and a half - that counts BIG time :wink: ) but I can understand how you must feel. You must be anxious, but think how excited she'll be, and the memories she'll have for the rest of her life.

    I, like AJ, read this and think "Oh, our's is just a wee thing, she'll never leave us", but I guess that's the future, and your daughters future too.

    It sounds like it's all very well organised, and she will be with good people (hey, I'm a Dad that takes the evil weed, but NOT in the house - he may smoke outside :?: )

    And like Flex says, emails and the net generally will bring you together practically every day. Wow, how it shrinks the world

    I'm sure everyone who reads this will be anxious to follow yours and her progress throughout. Have you thought about putting up a website, maybe with photos, and how about blogs from both her and your points of view ?

    Just a thought.......Good luck to you all, Trip & fam :thumbleft
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  9. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Thanks for all the support, gang. Actually, we're not supposed to communicate with her a great deal via e-mail. They don't want the AFS kids spending a ton of hours on the Internet because it isolates them from their experience with the host family, friends, and culture. She's encouraged to do e-mails about once a week.

    I guess even local phone service is charged on a per-call basis so a lot of time on the Internet can run up a family's phone bill. I looked up her Japanese High School on the web: http://www.edu.pref.chiba.jp/hschool/083/ The site is in Japanese only but I clicked around the links and found the school uniform she'll be wearing. I printed out a copy and gave it to her. She took it to school today to show everyone what a geek she'll look like. She's not looking forward to a uniform (I think it's cute) but of course, she'll go along with the program.

    We're pointing out all of the things she does that she'd probably better cool when she goes to Japan. She tends to keep a messy room which will have to change. I won't embarrass her by listing the other habits we're encouraging her to change (she'd kill me if I told on her).

    I found out from a guy in Australia that Japanese men tend to smoke like chimneys. Hopefully, the guy will smoke outside. My daughter will get unbelievable migranes if she's exposed to cigarette smoke too much. We're going to make sure our AFS rep knows all this and passes it on to the folks in Japan before the trip so that all the concerned parties can be prepared.

    I'll keep posting updates as they come in. Gav, I can remember my daughter when she was five. Of course, we never thought a day like this would come...oh sure, you always know your kids will grow up, go off to college...get married...stuff like that, but it's hard to really take it to heart when they're small. With my sons entering university next year, I figured my daughter would be the only one around regularly. Now she's off for 11 months. I'm already looking forward to February 2005.
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