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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.

Newsletter Articles – May 2016

CLE trip to Japan

Last summer, I had the privilege of taking part in CLE’s annual trip abroad. Although I learned much about Japan and its culture, this trip helped to solidify many good lessons for me in my everyday life. Traveling with a group of students with disabilities can have its unique challenges; however, with every challenge I had the opportunity to grow and learn about myself as well as the people who traveled with me. Below are what I considered to be the 5 most important lessons that I learned as a result from the trip. Although these lessons apply directly to traveling overseas with groups of students, they also apply in their own ways to “real life” back home.

Moving tools

Moving or making a transition to a new environment is always going to involve a little sweat, but the more work you do up front, the less you have to worry about the day of the move. To minimize the anxiety and stress associated with moving, one of the most important things you can do is to be organized and start the moving/planning process right away!
So you’re going to move? What are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Traveling with CLE Students

At CLE-Rockville, many of our students are very well traveled, in the U.S. and internationally. (A recent outing to a restaurant featured a table of students all swapping stories of different trips to London … they hadn’t known they all had it in common!) For this month’s travel issue, we interviewed a few students about their favorite trip, and asked for their advice to others setting out on travels.

Traveling luggage

by Terri Shermett, Program Director, CLE Davie


At College Living Experience in Fort Lauderdale, we have many students that travel to visit family during their school breaks, or to go on vacations with their loved ones. The instructors of our Independent Living…

This year, CLE students will be traveling across the pond to Great Britain. From July 23rd to August 2nd, students will be exploring England, Edinburgh, Wales and the beautiful landscapes in between.

While students immerse themselves in a new culture and explore a new environment they will have the opportunity to continue to practice their skills sets from budgeting, navigating, developing friendships, and time management.

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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.