“The Best Month of My Life”
Every summer about 1,000 Japanese children fly across the Pacific Ocean to live with an American or Canadian family for a month of friendship and discovery.
*What is involved for the Japanese student to travel overseas?
Host families welcome their Japanese visitor as a family member — not as a tourist or guest. In this way, both sides can truly learn to understand one another.
- Participants range in age from 12 years old to college students, and host families have a child of the same sex and similar age
(within two years).
- Students travel in state or provincial delegations, which are accompanied by adult
chaperones who are available to help students and host families.
- The Japanese children want to experience daily life in Canada and the United States, so host families are not expected to plan special trips or activities. Labo members can share a room with their host, they are eager to help out with family chores, and they are encouraged to try all new experiences!
- Students have complete medical insurance coverage.
- Although their English is rudimentary at first, all students have participated in Labo activities for many years, so it is expected that their English will improve at a rapid pace once they begin their homestay.
- Labo members take part in six months of orientation activities prior to leaving Japan.
- Support and orientation is provided to host families by state/provincial, and local Coordinators.
Whether it is helping with family chores or just playing with their host sister or brother, the summer is full of fun and laughter! In addition to learning about Japan and the lives of Japanese teens, the hosting experience often brings families together.
Special friendships are a common result of this hosting experience, and Canadian and U.S. youth often travel to Japan to visit their Japanese ‘brother’ or ‘sister’.
- An arrival program for the Labo members is planned by the Coordinator. The arrival program, usually two-nights long, is designed to give the Labo members a chance to recover from their long flight, to become accustomed to local time, weather, and food, and to present a homestay orientation.
- Travel to Host Families
- Some host families pick up their Labo member and some Labo kids travel by van or chartered bus to a convenient pick-up locaion. Labo members may also fly to their host families. All ground travel by students is accompanied by a responsible adult.
- During the Summer
- Host family activities vary during the summer, but the Labo members appreciate being treated as a member of their host family. As they rarely have household chores to do in Japan, they enjoy the chance to
help around the house. The Japanese students want to experience regular daily life in North America, so host families do not need to plan special activities or trips.
- Labo members also enjoy shopping for souvenirs, visiting relatives of their host family, attending county fairs and other district events, swimming, fishing, and other family activities.
- Mid-term Gathering
- During the summer all of the Labo students staying in the same region get together with their host families for a day-long MID-TERM GATHERING. This can be a picnic, a pot-luck or other similar activity. Where possible, a Labo chaperone will also attend the Mid-Term Gathering.
These meetings give Labo members and host families the opportunity to share experiences and talk to their Coordinator and chaperone about any problems they may be having.
- If the host sister or brother is attending a short-term camp, host families should make arrangements for the Labo member to attend as well. Labo will cover reasonable camp costs. Contact your Coordinator for details.
- One night before their return to Japan, the Labo delegation gathers for an overnight hotel stay to reflect on their experiences and start looking forward to their return to Japan.
- They fly back to Japan the following morning — with their suitcases full of souvenirs and their hearts full of memories.