Cristina, Oka, Agnes and Valentyna are graduating on September 16, and today was the last day we met as a seminar group. As exams started today not everyone could be present, but some juniors also came. An educational company is now making a DVD about "international communication" and they came to tape part of the class today.
I'm back in Japan and ready to go to Togane tomorrow. I arrived a little hungry because I wasn't able to eat much on the plane. I had told the cabin attendants that I am allergic to pork but they served spinach with bacon.... I had to ask them to take the food back and in the end I had some fruit, a salad and three glasses of Sky Time, my favorite yuzu drink.
It was extremely humid and hot in Florida, but in Los Angeles the weather was just perfect with a nice breeze and blue skies. Narita felt more like Florida today and I think it will be like this until I leave for Brazil in August.
I arrived here Tuesday night and I'm leaving the hotel at 4 tomorrow morning. Today I learned a lot about the UCR/JIU/Disney Program by attending the orientation session. As Disney offers a program for Japanese college graduates as well, I decided to go take a look at what they actually do at the Japan Pavilion at EPCOT. They actually work for Mitsukoshi selling all kinds of Japanese (and Japanese style) things and also at the restaurants on the second floor. There was a young woman selling shells that contained one or two pearls depending on how lucky you are. Others wearing kimono were helping customers make choices. There were drum performers as well. This was a very short stay, but I have a much better idea of the place where our students will be living, where they'll take classes and about the whole program. It's certainly extremely hot here now, but they are lucky to be in such an international work environment acquiring experience that will change their future.
Our students had a general orientation today and signed all kinds of agreements regarding confidentiality, standards of business conduct, employ policies etc. They were also given details about their weekly pay, social security and taxes. Their first day of work is going to be this Friday.
We left Riverside at 5 AM today and arrived in Orlando at 7 PM. Because of the time difference between California and Florida, the two hour wait at Denver International Airport because there is no direct flight from Ontario to Orlando, it ended up being a very long day for us. We are all well though. Students start orientation at 8:30 tomorrow morning and I have my first meeting at 9. More tomorrow!
Students taking part in the UCR/Disney Internship Program gave group presentations on various topics related to tourism today. Mikako and Shie talked about tourism in Dubai. Naho and Kaoru gave a presentation on the cruising tourism, and Hanako, Kanako and Saki talked about how tourism in both Japan and Spain can be further promoted. They worked in groups of five with members from other universities around the world. Good job!
Someone told me the other day that they have the impression I only write about food here in my blog.... Now that I think about it it seems like I do have lots of food photos. I guess you can tell a lot about a person based on what they eat, so I wonder what you can tell about me....
I am here in California now and I don't think I need to tell you that I have had artichoke twice already. I had a vegetable pizza at the Citrus Grill today--with lots of artichoke--but that was nothing compared to what I had at Sharon and John's place last night. They prepared a delicious artichoke dip, salmon, crab--nothing from the can! I have to share the photos with you.
I arrived in Los Angeles at 11:20 today and was very happy to see five of my students at the airport (Teramoto-sensei, Yui, Naho, Nanami, Hanako and Mio: Thanks!). We bought cheeseburgers for lunch at In & Out Burger and then came to UCR to eat (way too hot to eat outside!!) and for the meeting with the Disney group. They are all doing very well and I'm very happy to be here with them. Please take a look at the text they wrote on the "Disney" page in this blog.
Sato-sensei from Budapest Business School visited our campus today. Three of her students will be coming to JIU for the first time in September, and they'll be staying for one year. The students who went to Hungary in February thanked her for her teaching and guidance. Maki will be departing for Budapest in September and it was a good opportunity for her to talk about details of her six-month program there.
One sad thing and one great thing today: having dinner with Yuka at an Italian restaurant near my house was great, but going to Softbank with her and paying 77,000 yen for my lost phone was quite painful.
Brandon and Matthew from Leeward showed up this afternoon--great surprise! I actually surprised them myself by asking them to help me find my IPhone. We looked everywhere but no success. I am so annoyed and disappointed.... Well, after all that confusion and stress, we went to Yutaka for some Taiwanese food. Tom, their host, joined us.
I received this most delicious gift from a colleague: a box of cherries from Yamagata Prefecture. They look perfect and taste perfect! Thanks!! I actually received one box last week, too, from Kaoru, a former student. She is kind to always have them shipped to me around this time of year.
I used to think that Japanese cherries were so expensive and when I visited Yamagata two years ago, I asked a taxi driver if he could take me to a farm. I was able to touch a cherry tree for the first time in my life. I also noticed the amount of work they had protecting the fruit and how the couples worked without much help. I appreciate their hard work in producing, protecting and picking them one by one and then perfectly packing the "red pearls." I do not think they are expensive anymore.
I arrived in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture around 5 yesterday and had a great dinner with high school teachers I know here. Catching up was really good. I was most impressed at the recipe corner at Pivot where one of the teacher's mother's recipes are shared with the public. I brought some copies with me so that I can try some of the "Koriyama taste" in the near future. 先生: Thank you so much for your warm hospitality!
Mr. Takahashi is visiting from Korea and he was so kind to invite us for dinner tonight. We went to a restaurant near the campus. I had not been there for about 15 years, so it was quite interesting to see the owner again and remember the time that Jared Lubarsky took me there for lunch.
I am right now at Akita Station eating lunch and getting ready for a high school visit. It's my first time here and the air smells and feels different. It was like that in Aomori yesterday, too, where I didn't need the air conditioner. I flew to Aomori Airport from Haneda and that means I left home really early--at 6:15. My visit to Aomori Nishi High School was great especially because I was able to meet with the teachers of both Ayako and Kanako and we had long conversations about their achievements at JIU and their plans for the future. I also spent a lot of time with Kanako's parents who were kind to come to my hotel and also to give me a ride to the school.
A lesson: never take anything for granted. I didn't have a ticket for the express train from Aomori to Akita and therefore decided to go to the station early to get a reserved seat. I was told there were no seats left and I bought a non-reserved seat ticket and decided to line up early. It was hard to find the car that was "non-reserved" because I was thinking about the Wakashio-sen that I always take from Tokyo to Toke. Well, when the train finally came I realized there are only three cars and only one for non-reserved seats. It was a tinny cute train--sorry about the bad photo--and the trip last two and a half hours. I did get a seat.
Mikako, Naho, Kaoru, Hanako, Kanako, Shie and Saki are now in the air on their way to Los Angeles. They are the first students from JIU who will be taking part in the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and Disney College Certificate Program. They'll spend the first two weeks at UCR and then on July 19th they'll be flying to Florida where they'll be studying and working for Disney World. I'm now preparing a page on that program, so for updates check the main page labeled "Disney" from next week on.
So many people came to the airport (not everyone is in the photo) including the participants' parents and friends.
Mikako, Naho, Kaoru, Hanako, Kanako, Shie and Saki: We wish you all the best in Florida. May it be one of the best experiences of our life.
The Intensive Japanese Language & Culture Course in our Summer Program ended today. It was four weeks that passed by really quickly, but we hope that both the participants from the States and our JIU students have been able to become friends.
Five students and two teachers from Windward High School in Los Angeles visited our Togane campus today. Thanks, Yano-sensei, for inspiring your students and for organizing this visit, and thanks Tony for playing for us!