Manila ANC students share Japan experience
Brian Reynolds and Tyler Smith, Arkansas Northeastern College students from Manila, recently returned from Japan where they spent two weeks. The program, in its 22nd year, provides for two ANC students an all expense paid trip to Japan. The trip is provided by Hiroyuki Inowe, president of Yamato-Kogyo.
The trip gives young ANC students the opportunity to learn the Japanese culture and share their American culture.
In addition to Brian and Tyler, Dr. James Shemwell, ANC president, and his wife, Dr. Bridgett Shemwell, were invited to accompany the young students. It was the first time for Brian and Tyler to fly and be out of the country.
Both agree it was a little frightening, but they appreciated the Shemwells guiding them through the process. They were a little nervous coming home on their own but all went well.
Brian and Tyler are longtime friends. They are 2016 graduates of Manila High School.
They both agree it was an adventure of a lifetime and they can't express their appreciation enough for the opportunity.
After the 13 hour flight, they landed in Tokyo. Then they flew to Osaka, another 1-1/2 hour flight. They rode a taxi to Himeji where there would be headquarters for them for the two-week stay.
Some of the highlights of their visits included Disney Sea, Himeji Castle, an elementary school, Yamato steel plant, temples, and many other places of interest.
They both especially enjoyed visiting the elementary school where the children welcomed them like they were royalty.
“They all spoke very good English and they seemed to enjoy talking to us in our language,” Tyler said.
Their visit to Hiroshima was a good tour but it was moving to see the A-dome ruins.
The two were together for most of the two weeks except for one weekend when they stayed with host families. The two families lived in the same apartment complex and worked for Yamato.
Brian said his host family enjoyed watching sumo wrestling. They served great hot, green tea and red bean cakes.
“I learned a lot about their culture from them,” Brian said.
Tyler said his host family was very welcoming. The husband is an American working at Yamato as an IT staff member. His wife is Japanese.
“I enjoyed getting acquainted with them,” Tyler said. “She made original Japanese dishes for me.”
The young men said they were called the number one eaters of all of the visitors who had been there.
“We definitely came home with a good understanding of the food,” Tyler said.
One of their favorite places was the Sushi Train, a restaurant where a conveyor filled with all types of sushi rolled through the middle and customers just helped themselves to the different dishes.
They both enjoyed eating at the Ribera Steakhouse in Tokyo. It is a well-known steak house with a theme of professional wrestling, boxing and martial arts.
They did not know what to expect from the food, but both adapted well and enjoyed trying new dishes.
They also enjoyed visiting with Mr. Hiroyuki Inowe in his office at Yamato.
“There is a gold plaque with the 10,000 pierce of steel made in Blytheville,” Brian said. “It was also a great experience to visit the plant there. There is a temple outside of the headquarters where they pray for the safety of all their employees.”
They also adapted well in the exchange of money.
“You just take the last two numbers off of the yen making it equal to the American dollar,” Brian said. “If it is 100 yen, it is $1.”
In their visit they were amazed at the low crime rate.
“My host family did not even lock their car doors,” Tyler said. “We were in a city with 16 million people and we always felt safe. There was never a dull day.”
Brian has always enjoyed traveling but Tyler admits he has always been more of a homebody. The trip sparked Brian's interest even more to new places and spurred Tyler's interest in travel.
They both said they feel very fortunate to have been chosen for such an opportunity.
“We want to thank Mr. Inowe, ANC, the Yamato Corporation, our host families, all of our guides, and everyone who helped make this trip a great experience,” Brian said. “It really was an adventure of a lifetime.”
“We applied but really did not expect to be chosen,” Tyler said. “I am grateful to have had this experience. I also want to encourage ANC students to apply in future years.”
Brian is considering writing a blog about the trip. They have hundreds of pictures to help them remember each and every day they spent in Japan as well as the wonderful people they met.