Thursday, 1 August 2013

Intermezzo - Japanese Boys on Homestay

I want to get back to the end of my trip to Germany, but in the mean time we hosted some Japanese kids for a home stay weekend and so I thought I would throw up some pictures from our encounter.

The picture above is of the 16 Okinawan high school students who came to learn English in Minnesota.
Their names are Yugo, Hidetoshi, Shunki, Ren, Yuzuki, Hoshito, Shota (and me Left to right in the back row) and Ayano, Ryoko, Yuika, Marin, Yuri, Meika, Misaki, Ayaka and Naomichi in the bottom row.

We (of course) are the worst possible people to represent the American family. Firstly, our values are very different from almost everyone else's in this country. Then of course, we have no children, I am a lousy home maker who can't and won't clean and let's face it - we ain't no spring chickens!  I only volunteered us for home stay duty, because they didn't have enough real families and nobody would get to go on home stay if enough people didn't step forward.

We have dogs and fairly ill-behaved ones, so for that reason I'm pretty sure we were given 3 boys (instead of girls like we had gotten in the past (and I mean WAY past - like 20 + years ago past).  I suspect the idea was that they could probably deal with unnecessary roughness and semi-aggressive behavior. Little did anyone know that one of our big tough guys was afraid of canines - already a not so good beginning to our perilous adventure! (And of course our "little" Aimee charged that exact guy in full bark the moment she saw him!)

The first thing we did was take the dogs for a walk, so everyone could get to know each other.

Here's Hoshito, Naomichi and Shota along with Aimee and Copper at the local bike and walking trail.

On Saturday we went shopping at the mall. Outside our mall are two benches occupied by famous presidents, so we all got our pictures taken with Thomas Jefferson...

or George Washington.

We got three sporty guys, so we spent quite a while in the Sporting Goods store. Here's Hoshito decked out for football.

Even we got into the presidential act and had a sit down with Thomas Jefferson.

After shopping we went to the Space Aliens Bar and Grill. (Hey, it had entertained my sister for hours!!)

Hoshito (in the middle) had that expression a lot. We thought he must be having a terrible time, but perhaps it was just a way of letting us know he was involved in what he was doing.  We were visited by the local space alien. Naomichi kept on texting. The others looked confused. Of course I was jumping up and down with excitement!

The guys also tried their hands at the arcade games.

They'd never seen those ticket machines before (and truth be told neither had I, since we hadn't seen a young person in almost 15 years! I think I know more space aliens than youngsters!)

Sunday was the big production - we joined the ranks of middle America and held a barbecue - of course what spousal unit D (SUD) and I know about grilling would fit onto one of those crackerjack prize booklets, so we reverted to our inner natures: SUD hid in his room and hoped it would all go away and I blithely lied to myself and everyone else, pretending that I knew exactly what I was doing and had been grilling all of my life. (Okay, I only dialed 911 twice!)

So here's what I learned from this experience - Men must have a vested interest in convincing the rest of us that grilling is  a complex and hard to master art, because there is really nothing to it. 

You have to have a big masterful gas grill to do a good job -> FALSE
You have to have expensive utensils and just the right mitt -> FALSE
Meat won't cook all the way through on a little cheap grill -> FALSE
It takes a skilled hand and a lot of patience to start a charcoal fire -> FALSE
Barbecuing is difficult -> FALSE

You get the idea!

Everything turned out great and the grilling was the hit of the home stay!

After picnic lunch on blnkets (seen to the left) there was the mandatory frisbee game. (We DO know some of the rules about grilling!)

 Then it was time to take everybody home. We dropped by the local gardens first, though and enjoyed the flowers.

Hoshito and Shota took pictures of the gardens from the hillside.

I'm not sure if Naomichi is texting or taking a picture, but he did a lot of both.

I dropped the guys off at their dorms and then started to think about what we could give them as souvenirs.  When were kids we loved to make those window hangers out of waxed paper, so since they enjoyed the flowers so much, I thought I'd give them a bit of my yard to take home with them.

I found some clear picture frames and made each boy a little tableau. Naomichi had been searching for four-lef clovers, so he got clover, Hoshito took many pictures of the flowers in my garden, so he got wild flowers and Shota had helped me pick raspberries, so he got some raspberry leaves.

The second picture shows the pictures with light coming through from the back.  I also painted some wooden boxes and put an athlete appropriate for each boy on the cover.  Naomichi the baseball fan got a picture from the Cleveland game they had gotten to see. Hoshito got a Timberwolves player and Shota got a silhouette of a skateboarder.

We gave them their souvenirs at the goodbye dinner.  One student had been dying to play chess with SUD, so his dream finally came true.

It's the first time I've ever seen chess groupies- but all the junior high school boys were fascinated with the  contest and crowded around to watch the game.

SUD showed them a couple of chess puzzles and they had a great time. Then it was time to say goodbye. We had our picture taken together and then we all headed for home.


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