SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


In support of Kanayama!
By Amber Williams


May 20, 2008

Most of my friends will tell you how much I love Japan. Their points of view, clothing, music ect. are wonderful. That trip changed my life for the better. If I could, I would love to move there forever. Long have I said "If I go missing, I'm in Japan, don't come and find me"

As Tony Worrell said, I went to the classes. I learned what to expect and what was expected of me. Not only will others be looking at me as someone from Ketchikan but as an American. Different words must be said in ways not to offend if I didn't like something. There are rules as to where to eat even in public. How to bathe the right way, the list goes on. But it is all worth it.

I know the city puts up with a lot from us. Every trip someone does a BIG no no but they take it as well and brush it off with grace. I don't pretend to know what has happened, but if they would react like this I can only assume it was BIG. As a mother myself, my first concern is for my kids. If they think that for some reason it's not safe for one child or all kids not to go then that's it in my book. It's their town, their rules; whining isn't going to help. If you're that determined on going then take your kids over yourself. Other cities in Japan as well as around the world look to this exchange the way it's done right. It's lasted this long with all of its rules, they must be doing it right.

As far as the selection of the kids. Yes, they do pick kids (if I remember right) with grades of 3.0 or higher, there's also an interview. It's not a right you know to belong to ANY group! Kids must be able to be honorable and graceful to handle this trip. Be willing to do things in different ways every step of the trip. Kids who are closed minded, rude, bossy, and picky are not good to have in a foreign country as one of those kids can spoil it for the rest of them. And think of the adults on the trip who must handle it.

The Board who picks these kids is great, I know 3 of them. Christa Bruce started my whole love of Japan when I took her Japanese class in the 7th grade. I have thanked her for it over the years. I know it's never been hard to me to get an update from them either. Just in August I was back in town and saw her. We talked and dabbled a little about how things were going. Sure I didn't get the minutes of the meetings that had past while I was gone, but it's not like I had to pry to get an update.

Tony Worrell is a great man. Needless to say he's in many of my photos of Japan. He took time to call me before I went over to talk to him about what I could expect and if I had any questions. My house sister was Tomoko Katsuragawa, yes I remember her name from heart. I'm pretty sure if I was at town hall in Kanayama I could walk to her house as well as 4 other members homes. Mind you this is 10 years after I traveled there. Why because it is that important to me. While for some kids it's just a great trip, to others like me it's life changing. I'm still folding my paper cranes to this day for my kids to play with, I eat Japanese as often as possible, I go to an Asian market (weird smells and all) because I love it and wouldn't have things any other way.

Amber Williams-Baldwin
Lakewood, WA

About: "Amber williams-baldwin went in the summer of 99. She would love past members on either side of the ocean to email her at apple_williams[at]"

Received May 17, 2008 - Published May 20, 2008



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