Dear Loved Ones of the JAL2 Experimenters,
We hope this message finds you, and that it finds you well. It is hard to believe that almost three weeks ago we were meeting for the first time— about to embark on a truly extraordinary Journey.
Throughout these past few weeks, we have laughed and worked harder than we ever thought possible. We have gotten to know each one of your beloved children and we are eternally grateful to be the leaders of this, “Japamily.”
Getting oriented in Tokyo, learning about ourselves as travelers and our group as explorers— we navigated the intense and sweaty subway systems, found refuge in Ueno Park, and began to come together as a group.
Language classes in Sapporo provided a unique opportunity to learn Japanese though language immersion supplemented by an informal education of ordering off menus, talking to university and high school students, as well as practicing Japanese with one another. We also had an opportunity to learn about the Indigenous people of Japan, the Ainu. We learned about their cultural heritage through their musical instruments and dances. We were also able to reflect on what it means to be travelers on stolen land, as well as what we can do as travelers (not just tourists) to be stewards of this land and respect/honor all its people.
We are currently wrapping up the final days of our homestay in Hamanaka. Our time here has been filled with kelp harvesting, participating in classes at the local high school, practicing calligraphy, hiking, spending time with our host families and living full in the present tense. Leaving on Monday will be bittersweet because we will close this incredible chapter in our journey together and move into our final stops of Kyoto and back to Tokyo.
As we move into the final portion of our program we have a wish for each of our experimenters (your loved ones):
Imani: We hope the remainder of this journey is nothing like you expect it to be and everything that you need it to be. It has been an absolute honor watching you turn into an incredibly confident and strong leader who makes everyone feel like a someone. We hope you continue to use these leadership skills throughout the rest of the program and once you return home to Los Angeles.
Rachael: We hope that you wear sunscreen (lol) and that you continue to be such a guiding light for our group. You are intentionally inclusive and we hope you continue along this trajectory. We also hope that you explore and enjoy Kyoto like you have done in both Tokyo and Sapporo- your approach to travel is unique and something we can all learn from.
Ben: We hope that you continue to embody George Lopez by allowing all of us to laugh, be present, and feel welcome. We hope you continue to remind all of us to drink water and to #treatyoself to that extra ice cream! We are so lucky to have you!
Avery: We hope you continue on your quest for independence and that you welcome each new opportunity as a place of learning. You have grown so much on this program and have taught us all the importance of finding a passion and following that passion wholeheartedly.
Thuytien: It was such an honor to watch you learn and lead during the planning phase of the homestay party. We hope that your time in Kyoto brings about more opportunities for you to lead and for you to share your voice and endless talents with the world.
Blaine: It has been an absolute honor to witness you coming out of your shell and into your own. We hope you continue to make us engage in deep belly laughter and serenading us with sweet melodies.
Chloe: it is our sincere hope that you continue to learn, grow, and challenge yourself. You have taken risk after risk on this program and we are so proud of you! We hope you never stop learning and that you never stop questioning.
Rafi: we hope your second trip to Japan has been nothing short of magical. We hope you are able to reflect on your unique journey that brought you to this moment. We hope that you are able to explore Kyoto with glittering eyes and find peace.
Andre: we hope that you are able to continue to branch out explore all of the different sides of yourself! We hope you are also able to find moments where you are able to combine your love and appreciation of ancient Japanese culture with the modern pieces!
Lyn: we hope you are able to sneak in a few last adventures and memories in Kyoto! We know you have been looking forward to this moment and hope that you are able to soak up every second.
Cayla: we hope that you continue to challenge yourself to be open to new experiences. We hope you continue to care deeply about others and the world around you. It has been such a treat watching you learn!
Diego: we hope you continue to immerse yourself in every aspect of Japanese culture. We know you will be sad to leave the small fishing town of Hamanaka and hope that you are able to find equally healing waters in Kyoto. Thank you for consistently engaging with your entire being during this experience- it has been such an important reminder of the importance of living in the present moment.
We thank you, loved ones, for sharing your incredible young leaders with us- it has been an absolute treat to learn and grow by their side.
We are looking forward to our final days in Kyoto and Tokyo, and find comfort in knowing that our “Japamily” is one of a kind and can conquer any and all travel adventures we encounter.
With much love and deep respect,
Chris and Becca