Eyler travels to Japan through 4-H program
By BREANN FIELDS
(Oct. 17, 2017) What if you were chosen to travel thousands of miles away for a chance to see 4-H in another country, would you do it? Addison Eyler, a 14-year-old student from Catoctin High School and member of the Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H Club did, traveling to Koga-Shi, a town outside of Tokyo, through the 4-H States International Program.
She applied to the program and was accepted as a delegate for the trip.
Addison stayed with the Hori family and got to experience daily life in Japan.
The father is a professional bicycle racer, the mother is a preschool teacher, and there are three kids. One of her fondest memories, she said, was going to school with the kids and getting to meet other students there.
“Everyone wanted to hear me speak English,” Eyler said. “I even got to learn how to write in Japanese.” What was interesting to her about this experience was Japense schools don’t have janitors. The students are responsible for cleaning the classroom. Addison’s last day at school was spring cleaning day, this consisted of removing all of the furniture from the classroom, cleaning the room and furniture, then bringing everything back in.
During her experience, she found the most shocking part was that the nearest farm was on top of a mountain two hours away.
“We take for granted that we are surrounded by farms here in Frederick County.” she said, “Dairy farms, beef farms, crop farms, orchards and chicken farms are all located just outside our front door.”
Japan’s agriculture is a lot different than the United States. They eat a lot of seafood, chicken and rice.
“There are a lot of rice farms,” Addison says.
Another thing Eyler said is different than the United States is their 4-H program. In 1972, an exchange program was formed to start a relationship with 4-H clubs in America. There are host families, like the one Eyler stayed with, that attend Labo parties regularly. These parties consist of providing language-based experiences for families in their homes.
“I went to two parties while I was there and traveled to an overnight Labo camp for four days.” Eyler said. “We learned how to work together, prepare meals and share things about our cultures.”
Eyler said 4-H in Japan is highly focused on incorporating younger children into clubs and providing them with learning experiences that will help them flourish.
Eyler said she learned how to speak a little bit of the Japanese language, what everyday life is like there, how to use chop sticks and that the people she met are extremely polite, dedicated and hardworking. She also said that school is very important in Japan and being involved in clubs and extracurricular activities is expected.
“Being able to experience another culture is absolutely incredible,” she said. “It will definitely encourage you to want to travel and lean more about how different we all are, but also how we are also similar.”
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