Saying ‘sayonara’ after a great junket

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It’s Tuesday night in Tokyo. Our Wings of Rotary 2016 has enjoyed our last full day in Japan with a full day at Disney Sea, guided by Hiroshi Sasaki from Kurikoma.
The weather cooperated. It was cool and cloudy most of the day. Our team got here early and enjoyed as many attractions as we could before the crowd got too big.
We begin home Wednesday morning and will be back to Cushing late Wednesday.
Tomorrow morning, before returning to Tokyo Narita Airport, we will visit the Emperor’s Palace, not far from the train station that takes us back to the airport.
All the way through Disney Sea, I could find no trash except for one straw paper which I picked up and put in a trash can. We could certainly learn from their culture of cleanliness.
A surprise was that they don’t spray weed killer or get our their weed trimmers much. Though many of the yards are impeccably manicured, somebody needs to get real busy with a weed trimmer.
Our hosts here have taken care of all our needs. They’ve fed us three meals a day, put us up in nice accommodations and have provided us guarded transportation everywhere we’ve gone.
Although it’s a clean country, it’s small with an incredibly high population for the square miles of the country. The Japanese are careful not to waste any land and have thousands of apartment buildings where people live. In private, single-family residences, it’s not uncommon at all to have members of three generations living in one home.
Myra and I are so proud of our team. Anytime one gets nine high school kids together for two weeks, one could expect a blow up. We’ve had none.
We’ve had a couple of small personality issues. But, for the most part, our team has gotten along with and really taken care of each other.
They’ve been very little trouble for us but have. Like any high school student, they need us to show them the boundaries and give them directions and encouragement.
They’ve all been good to try new things. We’ve been nearly two weeks of eating all kinds of exotic Japanese food with not a single complaint from any team member. Today, at Disney Sea, a team member nearly blew a gasket because there was mustard on his hamburger.
Explain that one. He’ll eat raw sea urchin with no complaint but can’t tolerate mustard on a hamburger?
We have loved the trip. We have all loved our host families and thoroughly enjoyed the vocational and historical tours we’ve experienced. We have toured and honored many temples and shrines. We have interacted with students in three high schools. We have toured some of Japan’s most interesting companies and the team embraces — with some reservations —the Japanese Onsen tradition.
Our travels have basically been near the eastern shore from Tokyo to Ofunato, about halfway to the northern tip of the country from Tokyo.
Many of the people here know a little English. Relatively few are truly conversant in English and there was only one of us who knew Japanese and he learned to speak, read and write the language with the use of an iPhone and no other instruction.
Sometimes, we could tell our host was truly enjoying visiting with us because they have a passion to become fluent in English. Other times, we had to get out our drawing pad and iPhone apps to communicate.
We all worked through it and became close to all our host families.
If this program is about maturing kids, without question, the kids we’re bringing back to Okahoma have matured, broadened their horizons, learned to be more tolerant and have become rather comfortable with accepting the concept that it’s not all about them.
If it’s about building bridges of friendship, our kids have made friends of some of the people of Japan that will last a lifetime. They’ve also learned that to have friends, one has to be a friend, In order to do that, one must take much of the selfishness out of the equation.
If this was about learning how to be hospitable, the Japanese wrote the book.
Japan is not a perfect world. They have issues with their government with some similarities to those we have. We could certainly stand to learn about their culture of honor, selflessness and respect.
Today, we saw about 50 baby strollers parked outside an attraction at Disney Sea. Some had sacks and back packs. These strollers were unwatched for about an hour. In the USA, someone would have helped themselves. In Japan, nobody touched them. We were impressed.
After two weeks, I feel confident I can speak for each of our team members that we are all ready to sleep in our own beds. we are ready for a pizza , and we are excited to order it using English.
It was a great trip. Myra and I are proud of the kids who came with us to savor this adventure.