Here is the story of a Japanese girl who went to the US to study English and stay with an American family. But, this story is a little different than most. While most of her friends went to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle to study, Yukiko went to the small farming community of Greenville, Ohio. Her parents felt that the big cities were dangerous and were afraid she would end up just hanging out with other Japanese students, so they sent her where they thought she could have a unique experience!
Of course, she wanted to go to the west coast, but still she was excited to go abroad. After enduring the seemingly endless flight across the ocean, transferring in Texas where she had trouble understanding anyone and finally arriving in Ohio, she was pooped. Her host family met her at the airport and took her to their house and she slept like a log.
The next morning she awoke to find herself on a farm with 80 acres. The nearest neighbor was a pretty long walk down a gravel road. There were no city lights, no shopping centers, nothing! It looked pretty dismal.
But, her outlook changed after the first weekend. The family had four horses, and the first day she was there, the father took her out and let her ride. Over the course of her stay, she learned to ride a horse pretty well, something she never imagined she would be doing!
Near the family’s land was a lake where she could go swimming. Often on the weekend mornings, when there wasn’t school, she would go fishing with one of the family’s boys. Her first time out she caught ten fish and they had a fish fry!
Over the course of her stay in Ohio, Yukiko would be able to try many things other Japanese kids could never do: she rode motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, she went shooting with a .22 rifle, she learned how to milk a cow and tend to chickens and lots of other things. And, somewhere amid all that activity, she studied some English!
When Yukiko came back to Japan, her friends had all gone to LA and Las Vegas. They had shopped and gone out, spent all their parents’ money and not really learned a bit of English. They experienced America like a tourist does, through the little bubble of their Japanese friends.
Yukiko brought home with her many great experiences and a deeper understanding of American culture. But, most of all, she had a good time. She got to do lots of things other young Japanese don’t get to do when they go abroad.