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18 Days to Japan

05 Jun

Friendship (Yuujou)

My motto for trying new food for my upcoming trip to Japan is: try ANYTHING once and THEN ask what I ate! 🙂 This motto served me well at my recent ETJ orientation dinner.  I ate steak, tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel, octopus, jellyfish, seaweed, liver (from some type of bottom feeder fish) and other delicacies at the fabulous Cherry Blossom of Novi Japanese Restaurant.

And, oh boy, I tried almost everything!!  (The octopus was a bit chewy, by the way.)  There was soooo much food!  I’m glad I’ll be walking a lot (and sweating from the humidity) because otherwise, I would gain weight! I learned that the Japanese use soy sauce the same way Americans use ketchup.  Also, it’s much easier to eat
certain foods if you eat rice with it.  I managed to eat everything with chopsticks, albeit a bit slow. I didn’t think I’d learn it when I first started trying a couple of months ago, so I’m feeling a bit proud.

Our dinner gathering wasn’t only about food, although it did help to break the ice and introduce us to Japanese etiquette and culture.  I met some of the other ETJ participants, as well as our gracious hosts and staff who made this trip possible.  I am so thankful to the Japanese Business Society of Detroit and the Japanese School of Detroit for this incredible opportunity!

What an admirable, professional, respectful, fun, and caring group of educators and Japanese staff!  I loved everything about the evening!  One thing I learned was the importance placed on teamwork.  Working together in harmony is key to living in a country the size of Japan.  They don’t try to stand out and “one up” each other.  Harmony.  It’s a beautiful thing!

I also received my airline tickets, packet of information, etc., including a marvelous DVD depicting a previous ETJ trip.  After many laughs and conversations, I came home and it all began to soak in.  This is really happening.  It’s not just a vacation to visit another country, but I will have the unique experience of seeing how the Japanese educate their children, how they live and I’ll learn about their culture firsthand.

As the realization set in, I started to get a little….anxious.  What if my lesson plan is too easy?  What if my host family and I don’t click?  Who am I to deserve this trip?  I’m not a Superintendent or Principal or even a Certified Teacher.

But then.

I remembered words from previous attendees…words by the JBSD and JSD staff…the respectfulness and politeness I’ve always seen by Japanese students and their families…about harmony and its importance.

Just breathe!  I will be fine.  This post started out light-hearted and ended a bit…well…heavy.

The evening was fun and I will post pictures of these fabulous new friends soon. Kanpai!  (Cheers!) to my new friends!  I am incredibly thankful and blessed for this amazing opportunity.

The countdown continues…

~~ Maggie

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5 Comments

Posted by on June 5, 2012 in kids, Teaching, travel

 

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5 responses to “18 Days to Japan

  1. Michelle Isenhoff

    June 5, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    You’ll do great! It’s EASY to know you, Maggie.

     
  2. Maggie Wunderlich

    June 5, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Thanks Michelle! I appreciate that. I feel the same about you.

     
  3. Blazing Portals

    June 5, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    I can’t believe how quickly time passes, and that your trip is just around the corner! I know what you mean about octopus, as I bravely tried it when living overseas, and I didn’t much care for the chewiness either, but you also tried many other things that I cringe at the mere mention of – you were very brave to do so!

    I can’t wait to read your insights about the Japanese culture, and their lovely people.

    I agree with Michelle; you’re a wonderful people person and an all around lovely one too.

     
  4. agirlcalledemily

    June 5, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I think for me going to Japan, the food was the scariest part. I don’t like seafood, and I was always that awkward kid who didn’t really like rice. It was fine though, and the only things I didn’t like were nato (a horrible glue-soybean mixture), and a squid and octopus okonomiyaki (savoury pancake), which I blame on the squid and octopus. I will even happily eat rice these days! If you get the chance, try their Japanese curry, I love it! I felt very special in my host family, as they went out of their way to buy meat while I was there, which is exorbitantly expensive there. I’m sure your family will love you, they’re very welcoming friendly people. You will be fine!

     

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