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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Students experience Asia (Part 5)

Friday, October 5, 2007  
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By Erin Minor

After arriving in Tokyo, Japan, the Pac Rim 2007 group began to prepare for a night they would never forget -climbing Japan’s tallest mountain, Mt. Fuji. The students began climbing the 12,388 ft. mountain at 8:30p.m. on September 27th. 18 of the 27 students who chose to go on the climb made it to the summit on September 28th around 5:30a.m. - just in time for the sunrise. An old Japanese proverbs says, “If you don’t climb Mt. Fuji once you are a fool; climb it twice and you are also a fool!”

For many of the students, soaking up the spectacular sunrise view was the highlight of their ascent.

“The clouds enveloped the mountain as the sun started to rise,” Bailey said.

Another student, Beth, recalls how tough the climb was, stating, “It was a test of both physical and spiritual endurance.”

One of her favorite things about climbing Mt. Fuji was the encouragement that occurred throughout the group.

“Everyone was watching out for the person next to them,” Beth said.

The Pac Rim group arrived at Ibaraki Christian University on the morning of September 29th. They were greeted by several Ibaraki Christian students and faculty and staff from the University. After reviewing the schedule for the next few weeks, the students were introduced to the family they would be living with for the rest of their stay in Japan. Every student’s family was different. For instance, Riley’s host family includes three small boys and two parents, whereas Lisa’s family consists of and older couple with no children.

For the first time since leaving OC, students are scattered about the community. Most only see other Pac Rim students during classes at Ibaraki Christian. Each student must find unique ways to get to school. For example, Jamie lives over an hour from Ibaraki Christian and she rides her bike to a bus stop and then transfers to a train that takes her to school every morning. On the contrary, Wil can walk to school from the apartment he is living in. The same is true with each student’s host family home. Ansley lives in a hotel owned by the grandparents who are in her host family, whereas Drew lives in an extremely traditional Japanese-style house.

The diverse settings each student is immersed in provides rich cultural conversation when the group reunites for classes at Ibaraki Christtian. All Pac Rim students are enrolled in a Bible class, culture class, and Japanese class. During their first week at school, they were able to view Japanese karate on campus and take part in a small volleyball tournament. The group is also given the opportunity to go on “field trips” about twice a week. Their first trip was a tour of the Omika factory, which is associated with the well-known Hitachi brand. During the tour, students witnessed an assembly line and learned information regarding Japan’s highly technological transportation system. The group was also treated to a reception given by the Hitachi Rotary Club.

This weekend, the students will be going on a retreat for their Intercultural Communication class where they will participate in a Japanese-style barbecue and communication games and discussion. Many of the students’ host familyies have been gracious enough to plan to take them to Tokyo Disneyland during their stay. Other events in Japan inculde Aqua World Oarai, a day trip to Nikko, the Ibaraki Nature Museum, and a visit to Omika Elementary school.

Photos by Kitty Vogt

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