Photo above: From a personal perspective I could stand and photograph surfers all day long.
I’m in Australia at the moment which a small group of Japanese kids. The reason? To hopefully instill a sense of adventure into the children’s lives and open their eyes to the possibilities of a world beyond Japan. Coronavirus be damned! Seeing Japanese kids go from school, to school sports club, to evening cram school day after day after day is hard to watch. So I make this trip once or twice a year in partnership with a good friend, Justin, from Hike and Bike Japan for the small English school that my wife and I run.
Most of the kids start out shy and apprehensive about spending almost two weeks away from everything they’ve ever known but soon warm up and often forgot about life back in Japan within a day or two. Usually aged between 10 and 16 years they deserve a lot of praise for showing the courage to pack their bags and jump on an airplane with me to somewhere completely alien to everything they’ve ever known. We’ve had a lot of repeaters since starting the homestay so we must be doing something right.
They have English lessons in the morning, followed by adventure based activities after that – surfing, hiking, cycling, SUP boarding, camping, cooking and more. Parents have told us that the kids seem more confident and independent when they are back home in Japan.
For myself, these trips are without doubt the most rewarding time of year. I remember when I was 14 sat in a Spanish class on a dreary English morning at school dreaming of being as far away from my hometown as possible and declaring there and then to my classmates that within 10 years I would have travelled to Australia (I went 6 years later). Little did I realize that all these years later I would be helping kids of a faraway nation do the same.