AGU in America 2006

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hiromi (m)'s visit to Maryland

I had the great pleasure of seeing Hiromi Satoh here at the University of Maryland yesterday. "Hiro" (as I always think of him, to distinguish him from the other Hiromi Sato) has been attending a three-week program at Fordham University outside New York City, and before returning to Japan for the new semester, he scheduled visits to Maryland and Washington state. In Maryland, he was hosted by Ji Won, former mentor extraordinaire. After a very long day of classes and meetings, I met them at the coffee shop at Stamp Union. Laura, Shania (one of our "unofficial mentors" from 2007) and two other UM students were also there. It was lovely to see everyone and to chat at some length with Hiro in English (he spoke very well!!). This was my first opportunity to see a former AGU in America participant face-to-face, and I really enjoyed it.

Meanwhile I have been keeping touch with several AGUers on Facebook, where we have a group "AGU in America" with seventeen members, including mentors, participants from 2006 and 2007, and even two former participants from 1994 and 1995 who happened to come upon the group in Facebook and joined it! (Back then, I was not involved with the program, but Aoyama Gakuin did send groups to MEI for several summers.) If you are a member of Facebook, do join us; if you aren't a member, registration is free.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays!

This tree is at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington, DC, where I went recently to enjoy the Russian Winter Festival.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Stay connected with Google Groups and an online reunion!

While it isn't always convenient to check 22 blogs for new posts, you can stay connected with your AGU in America classmates, mentors, and teachers through our Google Group. Sign up for the group at

Also, mark your calendars for our first AGU in America Online Text Chat Reunion, which will be held at Tapped In ( on Thursday, September 14, at 1 pm GMT (I think that's 10:00 pm Tokyo time). See you there!

Do you remember when I posted a picture of Black-eyed Susans, the Maryland state flower? Here's a picture I took of the Black-eyed Susans in my own front yard:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sweet Sorrow

Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet: "Parting is such sweet sorrow." Indeed, it was a sweet sorrow to see the group off at the airport on Wednesday, exactly two weeks (or a lifetime?) after they arrived. On August 2, we went there knowing only their names. Now, we knew their faces, their thoughts, their love of fun (and shopping), and much more. How sad we were to see them go!

Laura and Tim met the group at the Quality Inn and rode in the vans with them to the airport, where Ji Won, Kevin, and I went separately. We stood on a long, slow line to check the luggage in, and then Ji Won generously treated everyone in the group to coffee. We drank our coffee, talked, sang, took pictures, cried, and hugged until it was time for them to go through security. We five stood and waved as each AGUer, with Tatsuya Uchida bringing up the rear, passed through the security checkpoint and into the restricted area. We continued waving until we had lost sight of the very last person. Even then, we stood around and talked about what an amazing experience these two weeks had been for all of us. "It was the best part of my summer," Tim said, and I do not think anyone disagreed.

After we went with Kevin to the United Airlines counter, we went to the parking lot. Ji Won had his car, and I took Tim and Laura back to the Quality Inn. Then I went to MEI to finish some paperwork. It felt strange to walk on campus, knowing that "my kids" were gone. I kept imagining I was seeing them!

When I awoke this morning, I checked the ANA website and found that the plane had landed safely at Narita Airport. As I write this, it's about 1 p.m. on Thursday, so that means it is 2 a.m. on Friday in Japan. I imagine they are all sound asleep in their own beds.

Now that "AGU in America" is no longer in America, it seems appropriate to end the blog and to recommence with a new way of keeping the group united and in touch. I am going to investigate GoogleGroups and YahooGroups and will let everyone know how to register for an "AGU in America 2006" group. I hope that the students will continue to post to their blogs as a way to practice writing in English (including pictures and slideshows!). I still plan to add a few pictures or slideshows and perhaps a few links to the sights we saw, so I hope people will not stop checking the blog just yet! However, I think this particular blog should come to an end with this post. I have really enjoyed doing it!

PS I will set a date for our first intercontinental chat around the middle of September. Watch your email for details!

Farewell Ceremony

On Tuesday, the last day of the program, many of the students wrote very touching posts, saying how much they had learned and enjoyed themselves during the past two weeks. It made me very happy to read them, and sad too, of course, to think that the program was coming to an end.

In Kevin's class, they learned a song which he had written and set to the music of a popular Japanese song (What is the name of the song?). The song goes,

We came from Tokyo;
Our flight was long and slow,
But finally we arrived here in Maryland.
The weather was hot;
Go swimming we did not.
We didn't have enough time for that!

We had a lot of fun on trips to Washington.
We went to the top of the Washington Monument.
We saw memorials, but no Baltimore Orioles;
Then we went back to the Quality Inn.

We went to Mt. Vernon,
George Washington's home;
On the way back, we fell asleep on the boat.

We wrote a lot in our blogs
And talked about Sponge Bob.
We ate pasta in a Georgetown restaurant.
We went to the Fair;
We saw pig races there.
Some of us sang karaoke, too.

We ate lunch in the Student Union
And missed our Japanese food.
We saw the Prange Collection of publications.
We touched the turtle and saw free concerts.
All this we did in two weeks!

We took a tour of the Washington Post.
We used a coin laundry to wash all our clothes.

We came from Aoyama to U of Maryland.
We hope that we will come again.
It's never "goodbye";
It's always "see you soon."
So see you soon, see you soon.

The Farewell Ceremony took place in the afternoon in the Prince George's Room, in Stamp Union. We were late getting started because we couldn't get Kevin's and Ji Won's slideshows set up quickly enough. Of course, all the Japanese were on time and had to wait outside! I felt bad about that. But finally, at 2:30, we opened the doors and everyone came in. Marsha, Linda, Tatsuya, and I all said "a few words". Then we enjoyed the wonderful slideshows. As I watched, I remembered all the fun things we had done: the Mall, the memorials, the Washington Monument, the Old Post Office, the museums, the Washington Post, the family panel, the photo scavenger hunt on Diversity Day, the student panel, the Prange Collection, Annapolis, Mount Vernon, and the Fair. All passed before our eyes so quickly. In almost every picture, the students' smiling faces expressed their pleasure. It was a joy for me to watch. (Then there were the funny faces they made when they were fooling around, and the peaceful expressions they wore when they went to sleep on the metro or boat!) Kevin made a copy of his slideshows for everyone, and Ji Won is putting his on his website for us all to enjoy again and again. I enjoyed them so much that I completely forgot to award the certificates. Fortunately, Uchida-san reminded me!

After the slideshows, we had refreshments: a cake which no one saw because of the late start and the necessity of cutting it during the slideshows (but I took a picture of it!), cookies, fruit, coffee, and tea. Amy Wasserstrom and Eiko Sakaguchi from the Prange Collection were there, as well as Yukari, and Michael, Aleshia and Forrest from the student panel. The room was buzzing with English and Japanese conversation. And then the picture-taking started! We overstayed our time and no one wanted to leave until Ji Won finally took the microphone and enjoined the students to return to the Quality Inn "to have fun." And they did: they played basketball, and they went out for a final dinner at AppleBee's. And from the look of them the following morning at the airport, they must have stayed up very late packing their suitcases for the journey home.

Here are my pictures from the Farewell Ceremony:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kevin's class

Monday, August 14, 2006

County Fair

It was another beautiful day, although a little warmer, but with a beautiful fresh breeze.

This afternoon we took the group to the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in Gaithersburg, Maryland (where I live). Unfortunately, it took us a really long time to get to the fair on the metro and bus. When we arrived at 5:00, most of the students were already pretty tired. Half of them needed to go back to the hotel at 7:30, but the other half ("the intrepids") went out for karaoke with the mentors!

We split into groups at the fair. Some of us watched the pig races (and some ducks, too). We saw the baby animals at "Old MacDonald's Farm", rabbits, cows, and horses.... We walked through the carnival, but nobody went on a ride; but Yuiko told me she took a pony ride!! Some people ate "fair food".

The Fair was swarming with people of all ages, shapes, sizes and ages. I hope the students used the opportunity to observe Americans!

Afterwards, Kevin escorted the tired ones back to the Green Line; Ji Won, Laura, and Tim took the intrepids for karaoke; and I walked down Chestnut Street to West Diamond, where my husband picked me up. The first thing I did when I got home was take a shower to wash off all the dust and dirt from the Fair!

Still, I enjoyed the Fair, as I always do.

AGU in America had more than just field trips...

We also had classes!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mount Vernon

Today, Sunday, was our field trip to Mount Vernon. It was another spectacular day, weather-wise: sunny and in the mid 80s with low humidity. :-) The day almost got off to a bad start because we nearly missed the boat (my fault! I misread the Dash About shuttle bus schedule), but to make a long story short, we didn't. The boat ride down the Potomac to Mount Vernon was very pretty, although the boat wasn't as nice as the one we took yesterday in Annapolis.

When we got to Mount Vernon everyone was hungry (it was after noon), so we first went to the new food court and had lunch. I had a black bean burger and a berry cup. Two of the girls split a gigantic hot dog. Someone else had pizza, and several had wraps. Then we got stuck in the gift shop, which was very big and had lots of interesting items. When we finally extricated ourselves from there, we went through George Washington's mansion. I don't think many of the students could understand the interpreters' explanations, but I think everyone enjoyed sitting out back looking at that spectacular river view afterwards! Laura, Kevin, Ji Won and several of the students amused themselves with Mad Libs.

On the boat trip back to Alexandria, almost everyone fell asleep.

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I felt sure they would want to return to College Park, but the entire group decided to stay on and explore Alexandria instead! I guess they had gotten their second wind. I left them to their explorations and went home to celebrate Vicki's 14th birthday.

Suddenly the end seems very near. Although it has been hectic, I am going to miss them when they leave! :-(