Journey to Japan - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Journey to Japan


Eau Claire (WQOW) - 23 Eau Claire students prepare to embark on a two week all expense paid trip across the world.

But this trip isn't child's play, these students will be helping Japanese communities rebuild from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

"Probably this is a first time, last time opportunity.  This kind of service work or work trip," says Eau Claire Japanese Teacher Hiroko Nagai.

"What happened in Japan during the earthquake was terrible and horrific," says student Alex DeLakis.

Days away from the two-year anniversary of the tsunami tragedy, these Japanese language students prepare to depart on a trip of education and aid.

"I think it's definitely a once in a lifetime experience and it's pretty exciting and also really humbling to be able to say that we're going over there to help them out with earthquake relief efforts," says student Matteen Aminpour.

They are part of eight schools selected nationwide by Kizuna Project and Eau Claire students qualified because they have several years of Japanese under their belt.

"I'm looking forward to getting to use the language skills that I've learned so far.  I've been in the class for three years so I'm excited to see how I can hold up with my Japanese language there, as well as just helping out all the people and learning about their culture," says Aminpour.

"It's kind of like the ultimate test in a way because you have to use everything that you've learned over there.  I'm really looking forward to helping other people," says DeLakis.

But the people of Sendai, Japan will also help these students by sharing their culture.

"You know, not from media to see what's on TV and, 'Wow this is the tsunami.'  Nothing like that, actually talk to the people and ask how they were sad when the tsunami came and how scary when the earthquake came," says Nagai-sensei.

Japan supports this exchange to educate.

"All expenses are paid through the Japanese government.  So really there hasn't been much we have to do financially so we're very fortunate for that," says Aminpour.

Preparing more than helping hands for this trip, "We bought locally printed t-shirts and Wisconsin t-shirts and all that other stuff.  So it will be fun to explain to people where Wisconsin is," says DeLakis.

"Using Japanese.  You know, how you use different language you can see the different worlds, so this is my goal," says Nagai-sensei.

Individual goals are also achieved.

"I've never been outside the country so I got my passport and I'm all set to go," says DeLakis.

Set to show Sendai a little Wisconsin spice.

The class departs Sunday and stays in Japan until March 15th.

The Kizuna Project began close to a year after the tsunami in March of 2011 and this is the final grouping of American students to travel abroad and offer aid.

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