Three Eastmont High School youth should be excellent ambassadors in the Wenatchee Valley Sister City Delegation to Misawa Japan from August 15 to August 24.
The entire delegation including Karen and I have received our final training session. David and Judy Kelts, Association leaders, have warned us against behaviors that could embarrass us and recommended one to endear us. We’ve learned language phrases to use, steps to perform The Coal Miner’s Dance, lyrics to sing the US popular song Sukiyaki in Japanese and food to swallow and keep down. Karen and I feel prepared but scared our minds will go blank trying to say, “Su-mi-ma-sen, ni-hon-go ga yo-ku wa-ka-ri-ma-sen,” which we hope would sound like, “Excuse me, I don’t speak Japanese very well.”
The three youth from East Wenatchee have taken additional steps for their first trip outside the United States. They are Danielle Meadows, 10th grade, Max Wirth 10th grade and Shayn Stanaway, 9th grade.
Danie, as she likes to be called, is the daughter of Kristi and Mike Meadows, East Wenatchee. She enjoys volunteering in the Eastmont Senate and the Youth Leadership Council. Danie was named the Jr. High Volunteer Student of the Year in 2013 by Youth United. It’s a program supported by United Way of Chelan & Douglas Counties, local school districts and sponsors to teach young adults the value of stewardship in local communities. She plays volley ball and still finds the time to sing and play four musical instruments.
She’s excited about the trip and her host family. “It’s scary to be going out of the country without my family,” she said.
She’s reading more about Japanese culture and using chopsticks. She’s also making 50 gifts for hosts at our farewell banquet!
“My dad manages an orchard and I went out and cut apple and cherry blossoms,” she said. “And pressed and dried them and used them to make laminated bookmarks.”
Max Wirth, the son of Bill and Debbie Wirth in East Wenatchee, is on the Eastmont Senate and in the Yearbook Club. In addition to volunteering at school, he’s involved with church and the parks and recreation programs. His hobbies include basketball, swimming, reading and computers.
He’s strengthening his interests in all people and foreign cultures. “Lately I have been trying to not be so afraid to try something different or speak to people I don’t know,” he said.
Immersing himself in the Japanese culture, Tokyo, Japan’s past and Misawa thrills him. “I think this trip will be an absolutely amazing experience,” he said.
He’s bringing sports gifts, such as Seattle Mariners pencils and cards and a Washington State University baseball shirt because his brother plays for them. He’s also taking two special gifts, Giant and Spitz sunflower seeds his father grew to deliver to the mayor and Max’s host family. And he purchased a Washington themed hand towel for the host family.
Like all of us he fears not knowing Japanese customs, but he’s got the right attitude: “I really don’t want offend anyone and I hope that when I do make mistakes, they are very forgiving.”
Shayn Stanaway enjoys sport too, playing volleyball, basketball and softball. Her hobbies include reading and volunteering at church.
She’s been taking pictures of their home, Wenatchee Valley and her family’s cherry orchard and, most important, her mom and dad, Eric and Sandy Stanaway. There were hosted in Misawa in 2007 by Shayn’s host family. She said, “My parents haven’t quit talking about them since I signed up for this! My parents call them ‘Momma’ and ‘Poppa.’”
Even though it’s her first plane trip, she not afraid. ”To be honest I don’t think I am scared about anything in Japan, she said, “except maybe not being able to understand my host family.
Watching these three youth and meeting the rest of the youth, are all going to be an added bonus for us on this adventure.