I am finally getting the blog updated from the Kyoto Exchange Trip over Spring Break 2009. This has been a very busy summer with moving my departments around, losing my boss, budget cuts, and many other challenges. I have a day off today. I had other plans for today, to get out of town and have some fun away from work, but those plans (for the second Friday in a row now) have had to be cancelled. One thing is always certain, and that’s change.
Let me start out by saying this trip was the culmination of several years of planning and anticipation on my part and the students. Because it took two years to get the first trip planned and approved, several students graduated that were active in the PacRimX project. We allowed three students who had graduated to accompany us on this exchange as “student chaperones”.
We were truly blessed with a great bunch of students on this trip. We had only a few minor issues while in Japan (no international incidents). After a few days in Kyoto one of the administrators at Kyoto Gakuen came to me and said “I think we have a problem with some of the students”. After more explanation I discovered that some of the students were getting along so well that at night they were all going out and meeting up at the bowling alley or at an arcade and “hanging out”. We talked to the students and everyone agreed that they would give first priority to their host family plans in the evenings, and then if there was still time and their families did not mind, they could go out and meet up.
Little did we know that our first hurdle would present itself at the airport in San Francisco. Upon arrival one of our students was told that his ticket had already been used. They said it had been “stolen” in the computer, and used for a flight to Kyoto back in December (remember this is April). After many “How is that possible?” questions they said they needed some time to figure out how to fix it, as they had never had a problem like this before. After about half an hour this student had a new ticket and we were running for the gate. Apparently (at least according to the airline) a booking agent likely manually typed in a ticket number and mistyped it, thus snagging this students ticket info. I don’t buy it, but in the end we got the student through the check in and off to the gate.
Here we are at the terminal in San Francisco with Mr. Cornwell taking role. I think everyone was a little bit nervous at this point. We had students from three of our high schools on this exchange. They had the distinct advantage of having been involved in the many activities leading up to this trip both online and in person. So they were not strangers, and I think that helped a lot. Only a few of the students had ever been out of the country before. This was also my first trip out of the country (if you don’t count Mexico).
With everyone accounted for we took a picture before getting on the plane. Nobody was looking forward to spending the next 11 hours on the plane. And because we all bought our tickets online separately, we were spread all over the plane. Mr. Cornwell took roll again once all the students were on the plane and seated and we both breathed our first sigh of relief once we knew everyone was onboard. Now the fun could start.