Pacific Bridge: Osakan Visitor, San Franciscan Summer

As part of our Sister City Initiative, JETAANC helped assist the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Association with the annual Student Ambassador Program. This year’s student and winner of the Sister City Association President’s Award was Ms. Mariya Wada, a junior at the Osaka Women’s College.  Her contest winning English speech, “It Depends on Us,” can be found here.

Graciously hosted by Ms. Emily Murase, Mariya faced a schedule packed with exciting events and excursions. Her time was largely split between two internships: one at the SF Department on the Status of Women and the other at Rosa Parks Elementary School, where she worked with students in the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program. Mariya’s evenings were filled with sightseeing and dinners with many of our alumni who took her to famous landmarks such as Twin Peaks and Sutro Baths. Mariya also attended our annual summer BBQ at Speedway Meadows. True to form, Golden Gate Park was foggy and cold–I guess you could say that Mariya experienced a quintessential SF “summer” afternoon!

Mariya intends to continue with her English studies and, after completing her degree in multiculturalism, will seek employment at a company where she can utilize her language ability. We hope to see her back in the Bay Area soon.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped make Mariya’s trip a success. The Sister City Association appreciates your enthusiastic support and hopes to work with our wonderful membership again next year!

Below is a brief follow-up interview a few months after Mariya’s return to Japan.

What was your favorite part of your trip?

It’s hard to choose one thing. I enjoyed a lot and learnt many things at Rosa Parks Elementary School, as it was the first time for me to visit an elementary school in another country. It was interesting to see kids studying Japanese, and the kids were freaking cute! (^▼^) The internship at Emily’s office was great too. It was a great opportunity to take a look at how it is like to work in another country. And I also really enjoyed the food! Seriously! It is always fun to have various kinds of food at one place. (^▼^) One thing I was moved most by is definitely all your hospitality and kindness. I never expected to have that gorgeous trip actually; I mean, it was beyond my imagination! During my stay there, I began to think, “I wanna be like those people, [including] people in the Sister City Association, JET people, and all others who took kind care of me.” Thank you so much again. (^▼^)

What were you impressions of the Bay Area?

I thought you guys [people living in the Bay Area] are lucky to have a beautiful summer that is never hot! It was sunny most of the time, and I even liked the fog, as it was very new for me. It looked so mysterious at night! I was also so happy to have so much nature around me, like the ocean, the mountains, and big parks like Golden Gate Park. People were friendly, it was multicultural, and the downtown showed me a very different aspect of SF. That was cool.
My impression about SF is that there are many kinds of things and people in here! Wherever I went, I saw various kinds of people: not only race, but also their age, gender (I thought they were kind of open about gender), professions, and so on. And I thought, “This tells me they have freedom”–much broader freedom than the Japanese do. Definitely I liked SF. (^▼^)

Would you want to visit again? If so, is there another place in the US you’d like to see?

I would love to visit SF and the US again soon…! Only if I have more money! One place I’d like to visit next time in SF is Alcatraz! It sounds thrilling to take on a tour there. And of course I’d like to visit all people I met in SF too. In other places in America, I want to visit New York because it’s famous and LA because it sounds exciting. I hope I will have a chance to visit both big cities and the countryside.

Vanessa Young, JETAANC Assistant Vice
President, San Francisco, Kumamoto, 2006-08

A print version of this article can be found here.