This afternoon's special activity was a panel discussion on student life in the U.S. and at Maryland in particular. I had a really difficult time finding panelists for this because so few students are around now, but in the end the six panelists who volunteered to come were terrific. They spoke about choosing and applying to schools, choosing a major, living on campus, campus clubs and other opportunities, working on campus, sports on campus, campus social life, academic requirements, and international student perspectives (Yukari F. talked about her experience as a Japanese graduate student here.). Some of the group did not understand very much, but that was to be expected as their listening comprehension is quite low, and one week is certainly not enough to change that very significantly!
After the panelists had all had their say, we served juice and cookies and it turned into a party! Besides the 5 native English speaking panelists, Kevin and the three mentors all came, so the ratio of Japanese speakers to English speakers was almost 2:1, and I was thrilled to see most of the students smiling and talking with the Americans. They seemed to be having a wonderful time, and instead of going until 3 as expected, the fun went on until almost 3:30!
Good news: after weeks of uncertainty, the State Department has confirmed a speaker for us! Veteran Foreign Service officer Peter Kovach will speak to the group about U.S. diplomacy by way of a videoconference on Monday morning. :-)
And...I ordered our tickets for the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair today! I made two posters from newspaper clippings about the Fair, but I couldn't really describe it well. It's something you just have to see!