Baldwinsville Nick Augello, 17, is a recent Baker High School graduate who left for Japan Aug. 20 to spend the school year in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. He is residing in Kanazawa, which is on the west coast of Japan, and began attending high school there in August. Below is an excerpt from an email he sent after spending a few months in Kanazawa:
I have changed host families and I must say, this new one is absolutely fantastic. It's a huge family with a grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and two cousins, a boy at 6 and a girl at 4. They are wild and crazy, but very cute and very helpful when it comes to learning Japanese. I know I was happy with my first host family, I just can't understate it: this family is just amazing. They help, they listen, they speak, and most importantly, they're just nice people - can't ask for anything more than that.
My Japanese lessons are great, I'm learning so much and I try to speak as much Japanese as I can now. School is getting better, too. The first few months were iffy, but I didn't really interact with anyone. Now, I'm talking to students and the conversations last more than just a moment! If I were to compare the situation to a garden, I'd say the "seeding" process is over and the sprouting phase has begun.
In other news, today, I just got back from my first tea ceremony class. As Wikipedia defines it, a tea ceremony is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. It involves a lot of kneeling on your shins, which can be pretty painful after such a long time, but it was a fantastic experience. I can't wait for my next class. I really want to participate in one before I leave.