Kele Cheshire - Participant from Blenheim

Attended 2017 ProgramWhen my family and I drove into Auckland for the first time (for me) I was hit with my first wave of doubt and nerves. I would have to meet five new people in a couple of hours of whom I would be travelling with for at least 24 hours. However as I came to know my said travel mates I soon realised that they were all lovely people that held the same amount of idiocy and sass as I, including our chaperone, and my initial nervousness and doubt was all for nothing.In a way, I was surprised by my sudden doubts. Even before I joined the Japanese class I knew Japanese was a culture and language I wanted to learn more about. I had always aspired to go to Japan and in August 2016 I started fundraising for the Labo exchange. My dream to go to Japan was quickly becoming a reality. But not in the way as I totally expected. Whilst the trip allowed me to learn more about the Japanese cultures and traditions it also allowed me to grow as a person………and this was all due to the experiences the Labo exchange allowed me to be a part of.

With my host family, I was able to experience many amazing things that would otherwise be out of reach within my small hometown. Such as, going to a Ninja restaurant and cat cafe, almost getting lost in a 5 story shopping centre, taking trains almost everywhere, soon learning that there is no such thing as personal space in these trains in rush hour, eating many wondrous and sometimes not so wondrous new foods and drink, taking part in new years traditions including praying at multiple temples, and many other activities.

My exchange was fruitful. I was able to experience many traditional and modern aspects of the culture, while living with a totally welcoming family set on improving their English.

The memories I made throughout my trip are invaluable, ones that I will hold dear to me for years.

The whole Labo exchange and staff was terrific and I would encourage others to participate in the homestay exchange.