Japan Trip

Spring Semester Trip for J3 and J4 Interested Students 

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2009 Stops:
Shin-Osaka Youth Hostel
Mt. Koya
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Kyoto Teramachi
Nagasaki


It is time again to set in motion or plans for the annual trip to Japan.  The students who have participated in the trip the last three years unanimously felt they had a wonderful trip, and even seemed to enjoy all the educational material I added along the way as they learned about the culture and history of the places we visited.  Many felt that getting to practice all they've learned gave them a new confidence in their ability with the language.  In that we walked almost everywhere we went, they also got a lot of exercise!

These trips have proven motivating to many students, and the chance to travel with someone who can help them understand the cultural and historical aspects of the experience has been a reason many parents have chosen to let their child take part.  

For 2009 I am planning (if there are enough people interested) to take a group during the February break.  There are several reasons for looking at February instead of April, the principal one being the convenience of the school whose families will provide homestays for our students.

We will have an informational meeting early in the fall semester (I will send word through the students), and I invite you to come and learn more about the trip.  There are plenty of issues to work out before our plans become definite, but I want you to have as much information as I can as you consider whether to allow your son or daughter to go.

    where:    Osaka, Kyoto, Mt. Koya, Nagasaki
    when:    Saturday, Feb. 14th through Sunday, Feb. 22nd  
    how much:    $2100
     ($1400 will be due initially, and the remaining $700 due
        approximately a month later)

Tentative itinerary:

    Sat 14th    leave from San Francisco
    Sun 15th    arrive in Japan; take train to Osaka; check into hostel
    Mon 16th    sightseeing in Osaka, travel to Mt. Koya to stay at temple
    Tue 17th    day trip to Kyoto (temples, Teramachi, Kyoto Station)
    Wed 18th    day trip to Nara (deer park, Todaiji), evening in Umeda
    Thu 19th    travel to Nagasaki; meet homestay families
    Fri 20th    attend school with homestay brother/sister
    Sat 21st    see Nagasaki with families, travel to Osaka
    Sun 22nd    catch flight for San Francisco

Preparations

First and foremost, please immediately start the process of applying for a passport if your child does not already have one.  If anyone is unable to go due to lack of a passport or other last-minute reasons, Wilcox will reimburse any money not already spent (the plane ticket and rail pass will be bought as early as we can in order to find the best prices).

The $2100 cost of the trip covers airfare, rail travel in Japan, and hotel costs, but not all meals.  Any money left over after all expenses have been covered will be split among the families one to two months after we return.  We will have our meals at simple restaurants, and students should expect to pay $20-$25/day for their food.

In the meeting at school we will cover more details, including gifts, clothing, spending money, projects with our partner school, using frequent flyer miles to buy your child's ticket, chaperones, safety, and discipline.  In considering whether your child should go, remember that students will be representing the school, the city, and me personally.  Though I don't expect any problems, should a student have any difficulties with behavior, I may determine that he or she will immediately need to return to the U.S., and if so, you will be responsible for any extra cost necessary to make that happen.  I have only had such a concern arise once (years ago at another school), and while I would prefer not to repeat the experience, I will do what is necessary to make sure the other students have a wonderful trip and that future trips are not jeopardized by the actions of a single student.  Please make sure your child has the maturity to act as a responsible and positive ambassador before agreeing to send him or her on this trip.

I want to begin by asking anyone interested to e-mail me (rhurley@scusd.net) to let me know.  E-mail will be a critical tool for working out details to make this the best trip it can be, and I look forward to hearing from you.