Eight Okayama students came to San Jose (July 30-August 5, 2019) and we

…had such a good time learning about each other and enjoying the company!

Here’s a list of what we did:

Day 1- Welcome at Kelley Park, Okayama Room with City Councilmembers Raul Peralez, Johnny Khamis, Lan Diep & Pam Foley (also a host family!). The students met their host families – just the beginning of the adventure! Students had a tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden with Girl Scout, Aderyn Clark. When back at the Okayama Room, they performed “We Will Rock You” and “Twist and Shout” – the latter with acoustic guitar!

DAY 2- Rod Diridon himself gave the group a tour of Diridon Station, citing past and future plans. “San Jose Walks & Talks” both former JET program teachers. We walked along Guadalupe Park enjoying the explanations of the art installations, then it was off to see SAP Center but really, we only got to experience the Sharks Store as SAP was closed to the public. We were hungry, so our next stop was Poor House Bistro where we relaxed for an hour or so before heading off to San Jose City Hall for a tour. Notes 1) San Jose was the first capitol of the State of California! The Circle of Palms was on our list to visit on Friday. 2) from the 18th Floor of City Hall you can see all of San Jose! 3) We were welcomed by City Councilmemers, Sylvia Arenas, Pam Foley, and Johnny Khamis in their offices. Ending the day with a baseball game was just the ticket. And so we did! Students were hosted by the San Jose Giants and ran around the bases with Gigante after two students had the pleasure of throwing a ‘first pitch’ before the game began! Two other students competed in the air guitar contest and everyone had hot dogs and baseball souvenirs courtesy of GM Mark Wilson! It was a great night!

DAY 3- Monterey Bay Aquarium. We all met and loaded ourselves onto a bus to Monterey for the day. The California coastline is famous and we wanted to take them to our world famous aquarium. Osaka Japan has a huge aquarium, large enough to hold a whale shark swimmingly on display, and they also had a dedicated exhibit on the Monterey kelp forest and of course, the lovable sea otters! Good food at the aquarium cafeteria, souvenirs from Cannery Row and the eco-friendly aquarium store plus all the popular sea creatures (jellies, sharks, sardines, groupers, and otters being favorties) – we hopped back on the bus to San Jose where host families picked up the students.

DAY 4- Friday was Downtown San Jose day – starting with the TECH Immersive. No one wanted to leave, the exhibits were amazing and fun. We walked to lunch hitting San Pedro Square where everyone scattered to find what they wanted to eat, browse the Farmers Market and meet in time to walk to…next destination…The San Jose Museum of Art and Circle of Palms. On the way, we stopped in to see St. Joseph’s Basilica. Photos, no flash, had become the norm, so everyone was busily taking pictures of the beautiful interior. At the San Jose Museum of Art, our docents engaged everyone interactively in the current exhibits. Students sat on the floor, having become a little more at ease in using their English skills, answered questions and asked some too. The gift shop was on the list and well appreciated. Having changed clothes after our visit to the museum, we headed to the Capital Club where a friend of SJOSC had offered to help by largely sponsoring an ‘adult event’ for host families, councilmembers and specially invited guests and the students with great views from the club and a taco buffet dinner. Here, SJOSC was presented with a surprise Commendation by Councilmember D9 & Host Family Pam Foley from the City of San Jose! Ahh – but that was not the end of the evening. We walked the short distance to the Montgomery Theater to see “Legally Blonde” by the Children’s Musical Theater of San Jose. It was a great way to end our ‘downtown’ day!

DAY 5- FREE DAY! Host families did everything from host BBQ’s at their homes, to taking students to Great America and an Oakland A’s game! Our Okayama staff chaperones had a visit to Santana Row and Willow Glen and a BBQ later at a wonderful home.

DAY 6- JAPANTOWN SJ Day- First was a tour in Japanese of the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj) on 5th Street. Then over to the corner to have a hiphop basics class taught by an energetic and wonderful teacher from The Get Down Dance Studios! Worn out? Not yet! The students went along Jackson St to get a snack before visiting the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin on 5th Street. After taking ample time to talk and get to know a little about the history of such a Japanese place in America, we went around the block to our farewell Jtown Pizza party on 6th Street hosted by SJSU!

DAY 7- All good things must end? Really? We did have to say ‘good-bye’ or ‘sayonara’ and ‘be well’ to our new friends! Sad, but we know everyone will stay in touch with each other! With so many memories to keep us warm, we look forward to the next time we get to see everyone! Maybe in 2020??? We’ll see! KAMPAI!

Most host families and homestay students stay friends for life. It is just that good!

EMAIL: sjokayama1957@gmail.com