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Japan in Hindsight

A Student Perspective on CLE Serves 2015

by Jennifer Griffith, Regional Director, CLE Monterey and Costa Mesa

Riley Smith is a student at the Costa Mesa center who traveled with CLE to Japan in summer of 2015. He was interviewed about his experience.

Travels to Japan

What did you learn?

This was my second trip to Japan. I was impressed with the knowledge held by one of the team members, Jake. He readily shared this with me and I enjoyed our interactions.

How did you grow?

I don’t know if I grew as a person. Some experiences that I find worth remembering were the experiences shared with Jake and a peer, Chris, from the Davie center.

What was your most vivid memory?

This is a tough one. There is a lot I like about Japan and the nation as a whole because it gives you sense of awe and other worldliness. I would say that the temple and shrines were what I like best because they are extremely well crafted in terms of architecture and many are several hundred years old. Much older than what I would see in California.

Would you do it again?

Yes and no. I have been to Japan before, and would like to return again. However, I would want to go on my own next time. This would afford me more flexibility in navigating the country at my own pace and without the need to accommodate a group’s needs.

What were some of the challenges?

Honestly, having previously been to Japan, I had more knowledge of what to expect than many of the other CLE students did. I would recommend educating students on the trip about the local culture more thoroughly before leaving.

What appeals to you regarding the Japanese culture?

Part of what I like about Japan is that in some ways, it is the exact opposite of the US. Before visiting Japan, I didn’t know people were capable of doing some of the things they do. Specifically, I guess origami, as well as the intricate architecture and textiles used.

What was the most fun or exciting part of the trip?

For me, it was the day we were going to visit Mount Fuji and a local lake. We split up, and the group I was with included Jake and Chris, which was ideal for me. For one whole day, I was able to have an experience where some of the challenges of my peers were not interfering with my enjoyment. The staff member, Jake, really made a positive impact on this trip for me.



This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.