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Reflections on Japan: What the Community Learned from its First Port

‚ÄúNever in my life have I felt so welcome. I cannot put into words the appreciation I felt towards the Japanese people who went the extra mile‚Äîthe old man who walked us to a station, the woman on the train who shared her snacks and infectious laugh, the lady at the restaurant with more patience than anyone I‚Äôve met would give. Thanks not only for the memories, Japan, but for the lessons in understanding and kindness.‚Äù — Kaitlynn Lagman, Western Washington University

“Something I learned from this first port is to be cautious of the stereotypes you come in with and/or create during your time traveling. Even “good” stereotypes are

harmful as they set up unrealistic expectations for a group of people. I will make sure to focus on meeting individuals and will not make overarching conclusions about a people or place.‚Äù¬† — Tori Vogel, American University

“There were English signs everywhere in Japan, but it made me think that we shouldn’t expect the rest of the world to speak our language. I was actually ashamed that I hadn’t put enough effort into learning a few more phrases than just ‘hello,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘sorry’ because people in Japan made such an effort to try and use whatever English they knew to help us. So my goal for the next few ports is to make a greater effort to learn more phrases.” – Dahanah Josias Sejour, College of William and Mary

“Everyone in Japan was so nice… They always tried to help, even if it meant giving up business. A hostel owner told us where to find a Ryokan and a waitress at a restaurant told us where to find cheaper Kobe beef.” – Laura Contestable, State University of NY, Brockport

“Japan was very quiet. No matter how quiet I tried to talk, I was still very loud.” – Anonymous

‚ÄúWhile we were traveling there was a moment when I realized how crazy this whole trip is. I asked my friends, ‚ÄúDo you guys feel like going to Kyoto?,‚Äù and they nonchalantly responded with ‚ÄúSure, that sounds like fun,‚Äù like we weren‚Äôt across the globe from home.‚Äù¬† — Rachel Holland, Tallahassee Community College

‚ÄúThe experience in Japan was profound in many ways: no credit cards, coins have value, people will walk you multiple blocks to your destination when you are lost, if you find someone who has been to the U.S. they will LOVE to tell you, if you can play charades or Pictionary you can communicate in another language, and ‘thank you’ is the most important word to learn.‚Äù ‚Äì Jessica Strickler, High Point University

“It’s the cleanest place in the world, but they have no trashcans. I was amazed.” – Craig Hauser, Dean of Student Life

“The kids we met were just like us when we were in elementary school. They love playing dodge ball, they love soccer, they love giving high fives, and they love being silly and swinging on the monkey bars. It was just a really cool experience to see how similar kids around the world can be.” Kevin Baumann, Clemson University

“I love Japan! I’m from Ecuador, so when people asked me in Japan where I’m from, they were in shock. For me it was an experience that I will never forget. The well dressed people, arcade games, karaoke rooms, delicious food, and the wonderful and generous people all made me fall in love with Japan.” –Nathalie Macias, Universidad Espirito Santo

“The kindness in Japan was overwhelming.” – Leana Hardgrave, University of La Verne

“It struck me how little we really see in the media of what life is like in other countries. I knew that Japan was a really developed place, but it blew me away when I just saw city after city after city. You assume that the media is an incredible resource, but once you come to a place like Japan you realize that our expectations of what it’s like in other places aren’t very accurate.” Patrick Behan, Unreasonable Media

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  • Life on Land

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