Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's hard to say goodbye

School, Friends, Parties, Families, Stitches, Thousands of pictures, and 22 "tada" tissue packets/fans later, my summer is coming down to its final hours. It really doesn't feel like it is over. It went by fast, yet I have so much to account for it. The stress on my luggage zippers is proof. All of my pictures show all of the great activities I did, and also some of the wonderful people I met. That may be the most important of all to me. What really proved that I built relationships with so many people here was that many made special visits at the BBQ and after Saturday just to say goodbye. As for my host family, we have spent the last few days relaxed and quiet, opposite of the upbeat weekend, just spending time with one another. I liked that. We have had a fun time laughing and sharing stories and jokes. (We had a little celebration when I finally successfully packed.) They really have provided me with SO much this summer, as in great hospitality, care, food, fun, education, and so much more that doesn't match up with words. My feelings over the summer evolved. Of course when I first arrived in Japan, I was in a daze of excitement, and everything hit me really hard and fast since every experience was new. Although the summer was great, I cannot lie that homesickness and culture shock affected me a little. There were a few days where I just thought, "I need to have a conversation in English!" or something along those lines, but then usually minutes later a friend or event would get me right back on with why I am here in the first place. To learn, meet people, and have fun doing it all. My phase as being a "guest" was very short, if not nonexistent, meaning that I fit in with my family right away. However, the actual feeling of being acquainted with the city, and the people of Japan came much later. Only this past week did I feel like this was my home, and my city, and I wasn't a visitor, but really a part of the society. That sounded really weird in writing. Much of this does. Living abroad does something special to you, and now just when I consider myself "molded in", it is time to go remold to America. Kind of unfair. This post will be the last one I write in Japan. It doesn't mean I am done writing. There is still going to be stories of my flights home (in terms of my luggage... there will be stories). There is still a lot that is unwritten and must still be shared. This isn't the end. It is a very unique beginning, with so many special opportunities that could only come out of an experience like this one.



aww christopher!! this post made me feel really sad. :( it made me feel like i was the one leaving but i know it doesnt compare to how hard it really must have felt to say goodbye. hopefully you'll have the chance to go back and visit them :]

have a safe trip home.

Lorraine said...

Christopher what a fitting way to end your trip, picture and all. Have you ever thought about becoming a writer. I agree with Louise, you made me feel sad that everything is coming to an end but I know this is just the beginning and that there is so much more out their for you to explore. Consider this as one chapter of your life and may you write a million more. Glad you got everything in your bags. Be careful coming home.
Aunt Lorraine

Mary said...

I can't believe it took me this long to realize that I can do this comment thing. Christopher, you may not know it, but I actually have been reading your blog. Not as often as I wanted to, but when I could. Wow, you sure are special! Not everyone can do what you just did. Feel good about what you just accomplished. There are a lot of people back home very proud of you.
Ciocia Marysia

Erik Mann said...

another great blog from you guys. i'd point you to mine but it isn't yet the way I'd like it. i do have a website that I think is cool, kind of almost about art harrison jim martial

wujek michas and ciocia ann said...

hey there sweetheart!

well you're home now actually when i'm writing this. and its great to see how well you look. even though i know you're tired as hell.

i cant express enough to you in words as to how proud i am of you. and the one thing you clarified so well in you last blog is how you have now changed. you're right about that. to live among people who truly are able to make you see what life can be "outside" the circles we create for ourselves is truly a growing experience. i just wish every one had the chance to pull away from their comfort zones and step into a world filled with other new experiences to make each and every one see what life really is about. its not about how much money you make, how big your house is, what kind of fancy car you drive or even what your status is with whatever work you might do.

rather, life is about how well you can connect to the human race and and how well you can touch the life of someone and how well they effect yours. you are a changed person now chris. you forever will be, as long as you keep your heart open just like it is now. never look back. always look forward. let the changes that has happened to you take you to new levels in life. i know you will. you are an incredible young man and i know (and have always seen in you!) that whatever you do in your life, it always will be just as amazing.

you realize at a young age what most teens take for granted. that life truly is a journey and not some little soap opera that they tend to be their lives upon. you have chosen to experience life to its fullest without living one day with regrets. you've chosen to make your dreams come true.

as your aunt and friend, i look forward to watching you take your journey in life as i do with my own children and all the other nephews and niece that i have! it truly has been an amazing ride up to this point. and i keep hanging on for more!!!!

i'm so proud of you!!! keep living your get some rest and i look forward to hanging out and listening to all your incredible stories in person....

always with love,
ciocia ann

welcome home!!!!

Barb Kilkka said...

Chris---On behalf of Youth for Understanding, I want to commend you for exemplifing the precise mission of what this program was created for 55 years ago. You've become one more link in the chain of those of us part of the 225,000 YFU alums. We are linked to the host families, the schools, the relatives, the friends who we have come in contact with. We've changed the course of our own lives, the lives of others, and the (yes, it sounds hokey yet true) course of our world.

Kids are kids the world over. It doesn't matter if they're from Latvia or Argentina or China or Ghana---they all share the same kinds of hopes and dreams, seek fun and friendship and caring....

YFU is always looking for kids who have the right stuff to become an exchange student (for a summer, a semester, a school year!), and we invite those who are interested to visit the web-site or call 1-800-TEENAGE

Even more importantly, we are looking right now for the caring American families who are willing to open their homes to boys and girls coming to our country for the 2006-2007 school year.

You don't have to offer fancy experiences or five-star accommodations: just the caring kind of parenting that helps your new son or daughter through a year in a new home. Host families come in all shapes and sizes, with and without children of all ages. Kids share in the fun and the responsibilities of the home (and often share a room with a sibling), and students on the year exchange find that life revolves around family life and school life and activities (not running around to tourist events).

Perhaps Chris' experience might inspire someone to respond to this immediate need for host families! We are working around the clock in August to make sure all the kids get taken care of. The YFU district office can be reached anywhere in the U.S. by calling 1-866-493-8872.

Or families in Michigan are welcome to contact me at to ask for profiles and letters of available students.

Chris, we hope you will be available to serve on some of the panels or information nights we'll be holding for prospective YFU students. You made the most of the opportunity. (You might even want to apply for another YFU experience, as some kids have done!)

Welcome back, but you never really stop being a YFU student
Barb Kilkka