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Yellowknife student spends summer in Japan

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 14/02) - Aviva Forget-Manson had the summer of a lifetime, but she wasn't on vacation. She was on a cultural exchange that exposed her to another way of life.


Thirteen-year-old Aviva Forget-Manson, still a little jet lagged, sports a ball cap. She arrived home from Japan on Aug. 7 after a month-long cultural exchange. - Chris Puglia/NNSL photo

On July 7, Forget-Manson embarked on her first trip to Japan and landing at the airport was like arriving in a whole new world, she says.

"It was hot, very hot and humid," she said. "I don't think they had any days below plus 30 and it was very humid so that didn't help."

But the heat was just the start of the differences the 13-year-old from Yellowknife noticed.

"Everything seemed pretty technological. They had this weird train going through the airport," Forget-Manson recalls.

While in Japan, staying in the city of Sagamihara, which houses a population of roughly 560,000 people, she had the chance to experience Japanese culture, cuisine and everyday life.

Her trip was not all sight-seeing though, and that was good. She says it allowed her to experience real Japanese life first hand.

Being in Japan, at times, was as much a culture shock for Forget-Manson as it was for the people of Sagamihara.

"They (the people) were nice, it kind of bothered me how they looked at me all the time. They'd stare and point, especially in the city I was in, they don't have a lot of tourists," Forget-Manson said.

During her stay she had the opportunity to go to Disney Japan, tour Tokyo, attend a Japanese festival and visit relatives of her host family.

The festival she says was "neat."

"There were a bunch of people carrying portable shrines and they were tossing them in the air, and they were pulling wagons down the street. There was Japanese music and Japanese food," she described.

The food in Japan consists of a lot of seafood, and for Forget-Manson that posed a slight problem. She's not a big fan of seafood. But in the spirit of the exchange she did sample the food and found Sushi not to her liking, but said she liked some tempura.

There was one dish she wouldn't venture to taste, however.

"I didn't eat puffer fish," she announced.

When asked if she was afraid?

"Of course, you can die," she added quickly.

Forget-Manson arrived home on Aug. 7 and she says it was good to return.

"It was kind of hard missing everyone," she said.

But now she is trying to recover from the time change and acclimatize herself.

"I think it's cold here now, after being in plus 30 every day."

Getting ready to go back to school heading into Grade 9, she will remember her experience in Japan, and likely, expand on it.

"I want to learn more Japanese, it's an interesting language," she said.

Forget-Manson also expressed appreciation to the mayor Gord Van Tighem, the Lions Club and other local businesses who helped to sponsor her trip.