Ashley Hall returns from Japan
Ashley Hall of Lake City returned from Japan just two days before her graduation at Arkansas State University.
Ashley, daughter of Marshall and Terri Hall, earned a degree in mid-level education. The 2010 Riverside High School graduate was selected to attend an educational trip to Japan.
"My professor in my distant learning class told me about the program and I wasted no time on the paper work/application," Ashley said. "The trip is open to education majors. I always wanted to travel and this was a wonderful opportunity."
Three students were selected to go to Japan.
Ironically all through school Ashley would choose to do reports or projects on the Japanese culture.
"It always interested me and when I could I would do reports on Japan," she said. "I never dreamed I would actually get the chance to go."
She left on May 5 and returned May 15. She and Natalie Lyons of Cabot stayed with four host families in Yukuhaski, a neighborhood in Miyako Town.
It was a 15 hour flight all together. It was Ashley's first flight and first trip aboard.
Her mother tracked the flight on the computer and knew exactly when she was coming home. She would give the family a place to place update on where Ashley's flight was. With the time change, Ashley's mother stayed up 24 hours watching her flight all the way home.
"We used a hand-held language interpreter to communicate," she said. "We walked most places."
One thing that fascinated Ashley was the use of space.
"There is no wasted space in Japan," she said.
After years of research and reports, Ashley enjoyed learning about the Japanese culture first hand.
She did not have any problems with the local food.
"Their food is healthy," she said.
She enjoyed visiting the elementary school. She said the children in the English classes loved speaking to them. Parents dropped off their nine year old daughter, and she followed them around one day so she could talk to them.
"The students were very well behaved," she said. "The classrooms used chalk boards and test books. The words and phrases they were learning were, "Hello, how are you?" "I'm fine, thank you, and you?"
She had the opportunity to visit several shrines, climb a mountain, and the experience of riding in a taxi. It was hard for her to get used to the drivers on the wrong side of the streets.
"Being from rural Arkansas we enjoyed seeing the countryside and the crops. They grow wheat and rice," she said. "It was a good experience to see the Pacific Ocean from that side of the world."
Ashley said the shoes do come off before entering buildings and homes. Even when they entered the school they were given slippers to replace their shoes.
One of the highlights of her trip was a luncheon with the mayor of the city in one of the small restaurants named "Stray Cat." She gave her a flag with a princess.
"It is a beautiful keepsake from my trip," Ashley said. "The trip was everything I thought it would be and more. I am thankful I had the opportunity to go."
She plans to return to Japan with her future husband.