For four weeks in August, members of the Key Peninsula Lions Club and friends hosted Yuki Nakata on her visit as a Lions Youth Exchange Program student sponsored by the Fukuoka Lions Club (Gateway, Aug. 25).
As required under Lions’ YEP, shortly after her return to Japan, Yuki reported on her adventure to the sponsoring Fukuoka Lions. Her grandmother, Naoko Nakata, a member of the Fukuoka Lions Club, kindly provided us a copy of Yuki’s address to the Fukuoka Lions.
Unfortunately, it was in Japanese.
Efforts of KP Lion Dan VanAntwerp to coax a translation from his computer were “lacking.” To the rescue came friend and co-owner of Il’ Lucano Italian Restaurant, Azusa Simone, a Japanese language expert.
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I’ve got to believe Yuki’s report, which follows, will warm the hearts of everyone who had a chance to share moments with her:
“Hello, my name is Yuki Nakata, sophomore of Seinan Gakuen High School, Japan. I went to stay in Seattle, U.S.A. for a month. I had a very valuable time and I would like to thank (Fukuoka Lions) for this great opportunity I had. This is the report of my stay.
I had two different host families. The first one was retired CIA agent Hugh and his wife Janice.
The other was retired attorney George and his wife Cindy. Even though they were 90- and 86-year-olds, they were so active, I thought they were more active than 17-years-old myself.
Especially both host mothers were great cooks and they treated me with many different homemade dishes. Among them, my favorite was macaroni and cheese. This is one of the dishes frequently served in American families and favorite of many children. I can say it’s like hamburger in Japan. I missed Japanese food sometime, however, I had delicious meals every day. I was a little surprised that they don’t serve each dish on different plate and use only one plate.
There are other things that made me surprised. That is the size of things! Food, buildings…everything was something I had never seen in Japan. I want to tell you three things that are baked in my mind.
(The) first one is when I went to the beach called Pacific Beach (with KP Lions’ president, Hal Wolverton and his wife Monica and other children) where you can see the Pacific Ocean. I went horseback riding with local Lions club members on 13 horses at the beach. It was my first experience to ride on horseback and my tush hurt a little bit. But the feel of wind from the Pacific Ocean, blue sky and white beach seemed to continue eternal — like a part of a movie.
Second is when a best friend of Hugh, Curt (Scott), took me on (a) private airplane ride. He also is an active senior. I’ve heard that he was an elite pilot before he retired. He laughed a lot and told me many stories while he showed me around the sky of Washington. I felt like this beautiful city filled with nature makes people like Hugh or Curt who have easy going characters.
The last is when I visited the busy downtown Seattle (with KP Lions Annie Mafi and Jill Van Antwerp). Seattle, the busiest city in Washington state, was really different from Gig Harbor, the city where I stayed. It was so busy and full of people.
Everyone knows Starbucks in Japan and there is the very first Starbucks store in downtown Seattle (actually, Pike Place Market). It is well known that white and green lady logo is Starbucks trademark now. However, the first store still displays the original logo in the front.
I also found Japan in Seattle. I learned that 12,500 Japanese people live in China town. I felt comfort when I heard Japanese after a long time.
Although it was very short time of one month, this was the most precious experience I have ever had in my life and learned so many things. I want to thank everyone — my host families and many local club members who made my stay a priceless experience.
Aging means the end of life in Japan. But it was different in the States. It doesn’t matter how old you are. They were living positive lives, enjoying and challenging their lives. Veterans of life teach many things to the young ones. If you see people in need, they make an effort to help. This is normal culture. They use their time meaningfully and do not waste it.
I would like to use the time given to me (to report to the Fukuoka Lions) in the most meaningful way as I learned in this stay. I learned these things in this home stay. To age means to find something joyful to do. To be kind to someone means to use your time preciously.
I would like to thank (everyone) from the bottom of my heart for being able to have this experience.”
If interested in making the Lions YEP responsive to worldwide needs, contact George Robison at 253-853-2721.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.