In June of 2008, I traveled to the island of Japan, through the People-to-People Student Ambassador Program. During this trip, I met many new people from both America and Japan. In addition, this trip gave me insight to another culture, very different from my own, as well as a new perspective on World War II. This trip is one that cannot be forgotten in a million years.
There were a couple of very memorable points in this trip. First, was the home stay in the beautiful Hirado region of Japan. I could have not had a better host family; they were very kind opening their arms to foreign strangers. During this three-day visit, we did numerous things. We went fishing on one of the docks by the house; I caught my very first fish, which was awesome. We went to an elementary school where we learned about their school and a little bit of calligraphy while bonding with the young children. The children there welcomed us and demanded our attention in their sweet, childlike way. We really got to bond with the host family eating cheesecake together, showing pictures of our family and friends and other activities. However, it was hard though because of the language barrier, but smiles are universal.
The second memorable point was listening to a little old woman tell her story about her surviving the atomic bomb of World War II. Her story was utterly heartbreaking. She told us how her entire family died, all except for her sister. She told us how her sister and her made a promise that they would get through the tragic aftermath of the bomb together. She told us how she watched her sister commit suicide by jumping in front of a train, and how she thought her sister was brave for doing so and how she thought she was weak for not doing the same. To me, this little old woman had more courage then almost anyone that I have ever met. To survive the atomic bomb and go though its catastrophic aftermath when she had nobody is unquestionably amazing because to go though all that takes more courage and the spirit to live than anything else does, a true hero. After we heard the stories of this tough survivor, we got into groups with Japanese college students and discussed the effects of the atomic bond as well as the American and Japanese cultures. From this discussion, I learned that the Japanese were not mad at America for dropping the atomic bond that destroyed many lives, quite the opposite; they actually felt responsible for it. When I heard this I was startled, how could they not be mad at a country who destroyed theirs, but it appears that they know that their government was corrupt at that time and these events were a part of war, so they are not mad at America for destroying their home.
It is hard to put in words how much this trip means to me. I really bonded with the people in my People to People group as well as some of people in Japan. The Japanese people, as a whole, are extremely nice. I learned about a different culture that is extremely different then the American culture I am brought in.
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