Well…. now you’ve done it, you’re going to JAPAN!
What happens in Japan you ask? The short answer is: Everything!!
Students selected to participate in the North Shore Lions Youth Exchange Program will be sent to Japan for 2 weeks in August 2014. If you don’t already know, Chiba City is located approx. 45 minutes from downtown Tokyo by train or, perhaps more importantly, Tokyo Disneyland is actually located in Chiba Prefecture!
The Chiba City International Association
Noting Chiba City's unique location between Tokyo and Narita International Airport, the Chiba City International Association strives to foster international exchange. The CCIA was founded with the purpose of promoting greater understanding between Chiba City's Japanese residents and it’s foreign residents. The CCIA also focuses on strengthening the bonds of cultural understanding and friendship between Chiba City and it’s seven sister cities throughout the world. The CCIA works closely with Chiba City Hall to organize and implement this exchange program in Japan.
While in Chiba, students and their chaperone are provided with a Japanese host family. More often than not at least one family member will have some level of English skill, although this cannot be guaranteed. There is also a possibility your new host brother or sister has visited North Vancouver as a participant on this exchange him/herself. With that said, there are rare cases when a host family may have only very young or no children. Some students will be placed in a traditional Japanese home while others may stay in a modern apartment, regardless each will have their own futon or bed and perhaps even their own room.
Approx. 1 month before leaving for Japan you will receive information on your host family including an email address. We encourage students to be in contact with their host family as soon as possible to establish rapport and find out more about their new extended family. Often students are asked what they would like to do/see around Chiba so it helps to have done a little research prior to responding.
The most common modes of transportation in Japan are by train, subway, and foot. Typically a member of either your host family or the CCIA will be with you when traveling, however there may be times you’ll need to travel alone. Japan continues to be an extremely safe country and each student will be provided with emergency contact information, to be used should they become lost.
Yes, the rumors are true…. in Japan they speak Japanese, however many people also have some level of English skill. While it never hurts to learn a few easy Japanese phrases prior to your departure, this isn’t required. We recommend taking along a small English-Japanese dictionary but don’t be surprised to find that these days many people you encounter will have electronic Japanese-English translators. Also, don’t be surprised when random Japanese strangers approach and ask to speak with you in English…. they absolutely love having an opportunity to practice!
What to Expect ~ Activities
While in Japan, the Canadian students and their chaperone enjoy a similar schedule to that of the Japanese students in Canada with a mixture of official and non-official activities. All official events are organized and paid for by the CCIA or Chiba City Hall while “free day” activities are organized and paid for by each individual host family. Official events include a courtesy visit to Chiba City Hall, a day at Tokyo Disneyland, and the Three Generations Summer Festival. “Free day” activities can take you anywhere from shopping at the famous Ginza in Tokyo to visiting some of Japan’s many temples and shrines.