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Nevada Union students savor a Japanese experience

When 16-year-old Mack Wilson visited the peace park at Hiroshima last month, the sense of historic catastrophe was so overwhelming, it took weeks to sink in, he said.

The trip to Hiroshima was one of the high points of Wilson’s 10-day tour of Japan with six fellow students from Nevada Union High School.

The tour was organized by Cultural Homestay International, a San Anselmo-based nonprofit that’s been bringing Japanese students to Nevada County for years.



“Everyone is more respectful (in Japan),” Wilson said. “Everything is more efficient. Everyone seems to obey the law and wants to do better for his society. Honestly, I wish I could live there.”

Cody Kirkpatrick, 15, seemed equally impressed.




“In Japan, there’s no trash on the streets,” Kirkpatrick said. “Everything is bright and colorful. Every time I said ‘hello,’ or ‘konichiwa,’ they responded as nicely as possible.”

Valuing what’s different

The NU students spent a week with Japanese host families in Matsue, attending Kaisei High School, the sister school of Nevada Union and Bear River. They also stayed a day in Osaka and two days in Kyoto, the nation’s capital in earlier times.

“At school, the students would follow us around, taking pictures and trying out the best of their English,” Wilson said. “They wanted to touch our blonde hair. We felt like a cross between rock stars and aliens.”

Though the Japanese high school was similar to its American counterparts in many ways, there were some differences, Wilson said. Instead of the students moving from class to class, the teachers changed classes. There was also a lot of mutual respect shown between teachers and students, Wilson said.

“They bow to each other before and after class,” Wilson said. “If teachers leave the students in class, they work respectfully, without supervision.”

Joey McCutchan, Spanish teacher at NU, chaperoned the students.

The best part of the trip, McCutchan said, was that students learned to value different ways of doing things.

“They found themselves eating things they usually don’t eat,” she said. “They were fascinated with the vending machines and tried every single non-alcoholic drink.

“They also learned to work together as a group. They noticed how people are very respectful, and they really appreciated that as a value. They also loved the hospitality.”

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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