Sarah’s JUMP Trip

On November 12-14, I went on a school trip called JUMP. JUMP stands for Japanese Understanding Motivational Program and it takes the whole high school to different places around Japan to learn about Japanese culture. The 10th grade goes to Joetsu, a place north of Tokyo famous for its farming. On November 12, I woke up early in the morning and drove to the bus pick-up that left just before 7 am. When I arrived at school, I met up with my friends and then we were divided into our groups for the trip. Along with other people, I was with my good friends Erica, Rebecca, and Emi. We boarded the buses and rode for 6 hours up to Joetsu. When we finally got there, we did service projects in small groups. Our group was assigned to raking leaves. It was interesting to use the different Japanese tools. Afterwards, we went to our minshuku. A minshuku is a small Japanese inn, with traditional tatami floors and futons to sleep on. Our minshuku was an old school that was boarded up on the outside. It was really scary!! We ate dinner and then went to listen to a lecture about the farming in the area. When we came back, we went in the onsen (traditional Japanese hot spring bath), hung out, and went to bed. The next morning we got to work helping out the community. Our first task was to clean snow plows. There were four of us on one huge snow plow and we didn’t finish cleaning it. We also went to visit a Japanese school. We (a few cheerleaders and me) did a cheer for the kids and then we watched them do a dance routine. It was adorable! After, we went back to our minshuku, ate lunch, packed up, and drove to a parking lot to meet our home stay families. I was really nervous for the home stay. We (Me, Erica, Rebecca, and Emi) were going to stay with a Japanese family for one night, eating Japanese food, doing chores, and speaking only Japanese. Emi was the best speaker (J-4) and she was amazing, translating everything for us!! The family was so cute and they kept calling us beautiful giants. They also fed us tons of food; everything from karage (Japanese fried chicken) to potato and seafood soup. Our family owned a soba shop so we also got to make soba and eat it. It was the best soba I’ve ever had! In the morning, we picked kaki (persimmon) and made juice out of it. The family owned a kotatsu; a small table with blankets around the edge that is heated underneath, and that kept us warm the whole trip. The home stay ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip! Around noon on our last day, we boarded the buses and drove home. My friend Serene and I played Catchphrase the whole way. Our record was 13 words in the time they give you. JUMP was a fantastic trip that left me with so many wonderful memories!

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