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Monday, August 5, 2013

Broadening My Cultural Horizons

The last ten days have been full, as my husband and I have hosted two Japanese girls through a homestay program our church has participated in for over 20 years. Every other year, we go there or they come here, and the cultural exchange is truly phenomenal.

We took our girls to the zoo...and they oohed and aahed over our petting zoo and red panda exhibit.

And they brought packages from Japan in order to cook a traditional meal for us...

It's called okonomiyaki, which is loosely translated into a pork/cabbage pancake. It was fried, and had barbeque sauce on was fantastic!

Then they produced the not-so-appetizing look of anko, a sweet red bean paste, and these wet little dough balls. They just laughed at us as we chewed on the white balls.

I then put one of them to "work" with calligraphy art. She had been a student of Japanese calligraphy for years, and was most gracious to supply me with the Chinese symbols (due to their not being a Japanese symbol for these three words) of faith, hope, and love:

 Aren't they beautiful?


Then they shared praise songs and Scripture readings in both Japanese and English (truly putting us and our lack of education to shame).

And they indulged us by admiring our daughter's kimono, which was given to her at Christmas by my sister-in-law who lives in Okinawa. All the girls wanted photos of the little blue-eyed, blonde-haired girl in a kimono. :)

It has been such a joy to have these girls in our home. Taking them to Target, the grocery store, the car wash, letting them cook, experiment with foods, play card games, use the garbage disposal...everything was novel. We learned so much, and watched our daughter's horizons expand as well.

I'm hoping I get the chance to go to Japan next year. Our girls will still be in the Christian school there (through which the homestay program operates). What an amazing experience that would be.

Of course, while they were here, my mind was a swirl with all kinds of writing ideas and story plots. Added bonus, for sure.

Let's Analyze

Have any of you participated in something like a homestay or foreign exchange program? How did you like it? Was was the most difficult part of it? The most amazing part?