Japan: An Experience Like No Other

This Year’s Japanese Connections Group

This year’s Japanese Connections group in traditional Yukata dress at Miyajima: Hugh Burleson, Pat Burleson, Meg Waage, Thong Chan Labanluang, Zoe Reinmuth, Amelia Kau, Luke Pietsch, Holly Hilger, McCabe Webb, Quinn Dye, Joe Reigel, Grace Zoerb, Joe Behnke, and Phil Comito / Contributed photo

Every year near spring break, Orcas students have the amazing opportunity to travel to Japan for two weeks. For eighteen years, Patricia and Hugh Burleson have been running Japanese Connections, a trip that offers the life-changing opportunity to visit Japan. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that the Burlesons have been providing students for over a decade.

Before students are able to go on the trip, they must apply and be selected by the teacher chaperones and the Burlesons. Once they are chosen, these students meet and take part in readings to learn about Japanese culture; students who are a part of this trip not only experience Japan, but are educated about its culture and history in a unique way that no classroom could teach.

This past spring, the trip entailed a stay in Tokyo, Kanazawa, Miyajima, and Kyoto, giving students the opportunity to explore the culture of big cities, as well as more rural and traditional areas in Japan. Every year, the trip also visits the Peace Museum at Hiroshima, a truly emotional and life-changing experience that educates the participants in a way that knowing facts alone never could. Visiting this museum and paying our respects is an experience I recommend to everyone. The trip also includes an overnight stay on the island Miyajima in a traditional Japanese inn with a traditional Japanese Kaiseki meal, an experience that few get to enjoy.

The Japanese Connections trip and its organizers have changed the lives of students for eighteen years, allowing children to experience another culture and receive a unique education that truly alters one’s perception of the world. The mixture of experience and traditional textbook-style education of culture and history gives students the opportunity to learn about Japan in a special manner.

The other 2018 Japanese Connections students and I would like to thank the Burlesons for running the trip and changing students’ lives for the better. You have given us a educational, life-altering, and truly amazing look into another country. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.