Testimonial By Elizabeth Fredericks - Tachi kid 2000
For just about as long as I can remember, the San Bernardino-Tachikawa program has been a part of my family's life, whether it was the annual welcome receptions or hosting the students for an activity or the various program fundraisers. We had heard so many stories about the experiences that kids from both cities had, and I had also heard so much from my dad about his visit, as well as that of the Japanese student who had stayed with his family. So when I finally had the chance to apply to the program in 2000, I did, and I was deeply excited when I was selected.
There's not much I can say in so little space about how much I appreciated that experience, and the experiences I had with my host sister and host mother particularly. But I think that what my time in Japan gave me, above everything else, was a willingness to be adventurous and try new things that my play-it-safe self had never embraced before: those four weeks were filled with the unfamiliar, whether it was food or kabuki theater or those towering shopping malls. In the end, though, much of what seemed at first so foreign turned out either to be very similar, underneath the surface, to what I already knew (like Japanese school kids being, in the end, an awful like us American kids, passing notes in class and everything) or else broadening and illuminating. Above all, I loved the inherent sense of continuity and community that comes in an endeavor like this, something brought home, when, at our sayonara reception in Japan, I finally met Kazuo, the Japanese student who had stayed with my father's family years ago. For reasons like these, it's been a pleasure to continue to be involved with the program, to continue hearing the stories of the kids who have been there and the kids who come here, and to watch it all continue to grow and bear fruit.