Kurashiki Student Ambassador Essay: Kaitlin Langton
off, I want to say how grateful I am for everyone’s collaborative
effort to make our trip to Japan possible. As a first-time
international traveler and as a student ambassador at that, without
everyone’s help and guidance, I would not have been able to have
the greatest experience of my life. Thanks to Patty Woods, who
booked our flights and saw us back to our families when we got back
to Kansas City from Japan. And thanks to Jan Conard, who interviewed
and helped prepare us for going through international airports.
Also, Fran Lemery was kind enough to give us yen currency before our
trip. Hideko Schackmann also helped by editing the PowerPoint I
worked on for the fun dance practice with the other Japanese students
for the farewell party.
as for during the trip in Japan, I would like to thank Koji Shirakawa
and James Benson. These two wonderful people made sure we were taken
care of and safe. For example, Koji-san was there when we arrived at
Kansai International Airport. After we went through customs, we got
our baggage and met up with Koji-san. He helped us exchange currency
and ship our bags to our host families’ homes.
for James Benson, he was a person who I am super-grateful for. While
I was sick, he helped arrange for a bed to make me more comfortable
so I could rest and get better. Traveling internationally was very
hard and I became ill upon arriving in Japan. But Mr. Benson and
Patty made sure that I was well taken care of in that aspect. So, I
am very grateful that they helped me recover as quickly as possible
so I could happily experience Japan with my wonderful host families
and the friendly group of Japanese citizens, and represent JAS and
Kansas City. In all, I thank all of those that contributed in any
way to getting all of us student ambassadors to Japan and back. It
is very much appreciated.
preparations for the trip seemed as if they dragged on forever, but
as time flew by, it came to the time when all four of us student
ambassadors had to get on a flight to San Francisco. I am almost one
hundred percent confident that none of us got any good sleep that
night before the flight early the next morning. My best friend Bri
stayed the night to see me off in the morning; she was shocked to
hear me whisper when my alarm went off, “I got no sleep, bro.”
She just told me I would strongly regret it later. That morning was
very early; we all woke up around 3:30 a.m. Once we got to the
Kansas City airport, Patty rounded us up and helped us check our
baggage. Once that was done, we took some pictures and then got in
line for security and to board our flight.
the flight I did a variety of things, such as take part in the free
snacks that the flight attendants provided. I also played some
Japanese rhythms games on my DS.
we got off the flight we had to wait a few hours to get on the flight
to Osaka. It was hard to just wait, but it gave us time to talk and
got on the flight and we got super-excited that we were finally on
the flight to our favorite country: Japan. Our eleven-hour flight
felt so long, but once we got there we were very grateful, as well as
tired. We took a little rail-train, a couple escalators, went
through customs and met up with Koji-san.
we sorted out currency and mailing our baggage, we took a bunch of
subways and trains. After riding all transportation available, we
arrived at our final destination. After we walked a bit away from
the train, we all saw our host families holding up a banner that
read, “Welcome to Kurashiki.” I was so excited, happy, and a bit
nervous when I finally talked with them for the first time. All of
my host family (the Sato family) was there except for my host dad,
Kenji. I later found out he was at work.
I met my first host family, we went to the supermarket to get
ingredients and food for the next day’s breakfast. I was so
surprised with all of the questions about what I wanted for
breakfast. It was a little overwhelming. At the same time, it made
me feel really special. One of the things that I enjoyed most about
my first host family was my host mom’s ability to cook amazingly
it came to be what we called “Mayor Day,” I became very anxious
and a bit sad as well. I felt that way because I was in a foreign
country with hardly anyone I knew. I missed my family and familiar
surroundings. I then met my second host family, the Nagayama family.
I remember that my host mom and dad were there to greet me and take
me to their home.
that evening, we went to get my host sister Konoka from the train
station. She goes to college about 2 hours away from her
grandparents’ house. What I enjoyed most about my second host
family was that it was a good experience to have a variety of ages in
the family. And going to the festival with my host sister was so much
fun and a great experience.
am so grateful for the families that volunteered their money, time,
and energy and hosted us as student ambassadors.