I first met Sanae Kanda when she was the substitute piano player at our church.  I asked if she wold teach Japanese, and she said yes.  We worked together for about a year.  She teached piano at Salem State, and when the next school year began, her schedule was too busy.  But she told me of a student (Nodoka Sato) who might work with me.

I met Nodoka, and while it didn’t work out, she told me of three students (Megumi Kobayashi, Aya Hiyoshi , Yuka Shimajiri) who were looking for a place to stay during the winter break.  We were going to Colorado for Christmas, so we could not help them directly, but we found homes for them with the Weltners and with Corinne Abercrombie.  That, we thought, was that.

Side story – I told Zen Yamada, our friend in Tokyo, that we had helped three Japanese students find homestays.  Zen wrote back that a fellow docent at the science museum is the mother of a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and that he was coming to Salem to visit with two of his friends –  Aya Hiyashi and Yuka Shimajiri.  Small world.

In the spring of 2010, we attended a performance of the HMS Pinafore at Salem State College.  Sitting next to us were two Asian women.  we introduced ourselves and learned that one (Chunyan Zhu) was from Shanghai and the other from Inner Mongolia (Chang Cao).  We wound up inviting them to visit the Peabody Essex Museum with us the following weekend, and then come to dinner.  They asked if they could bring a “visiting scholar” – who turned out to be Professor Jie Meng.

Over dinner, Jie saiid she had been in America for 9 months but this was the first time she had been in an American home.  Sharon and I thought that was terrible, and spent the next three months showing her as much as we could – whale watch, neighborhood party, lobster dinner (she LOVES lobster!), Museum of Fine Arts, etc.  It turns out her son was also at Salem State, and we included him in many of our adventures

I then decided to help students with American homestays – or at least to meet and visit with American families.  We attended the annual international student barbecue and met several students.  I invited about a dozen to come to the church one evening to a simple dinner and to meet church members.  In the long run, that resulted in six of the students – Kiho Ogawa, Miyuki Nagai, Kyohei Nakauchi, Guang Yang, Yukari Oda, and Chiaki Nii – spending the winter break with various friends and us – and becoming lifelong friends.

That’s how it all started!

The following is an incomplete list of occasions with students and other Japanese friends.

Jun-08 Sep-09 Sanae Kanda Teacher
Sep-08 Nodoka Sato Meet
Nov-08 Megumi Kobayashi, Aya Hiyoshi , Yuka Shimajiri Find places for winter break
Apr-09 Cao Chang, Chunyan Zhu, Jie Meng Meet at SSC play
Jun-09 Kiho Ogawa House sit while we in Colorado
Sep-09 Shi Zhong, others CIE Barbeque
Oct-09 Komine Oasmu Ota – home stay 2 nights
Oct-09 Kanasaki Shojiro Ota – home stay 2 nights
Oct-09 Kiho Ogawa, Miyuki Nagai, Kyohei Nakauchi, Guang Yang. Zhong Shi, Chiaki Nii, Shino  Miyahara, more Church meeting
Dec-09 Jan-10 Kiho Ogawa, Miyuki Nagai, Kyohei Nakauchi, Guang Yang Winter break with us
Dec-09 Jan-10 Chiaki Nii Arranged stay with Rickers
May-10 19 students Clam dig with Hazel & Wendy
Jul-10 now Reiko Asahina Marcos Ninhgo no sensei
Sep-10 Jie Meng, Shi Yao, Menglong Yao Visit in China
Oct-10 Zen Yamada, Tsuneko Takagi Visit in Japan
Oct-10 Oda family Visit in Japan
Nov-10 Komine Oasmu Ota – home stay 2 nights
Nov-10 Tetuo Ito Ota – home stay 2 nights
Jan-11 Mar-11 Fumitaka Matsuda Stay with us
May-11 Mexican students Clam dig with Hazel & Wendy
Jul-11 Yan Wang, Xiojing Niu, Sayuri Mizunuma, Maiko Arai 4th of July
Jul-11 Sayuri Mizunuma Stay with us  1 week
Aug-11 Menglong Yao, ? Visit before going to Detroit
Sep-11 Jie Meng Oregon, California, Colorado
Oct-11 Shannie Yang, Wenjing Ai, Mengyang Xu me&thee concert
Oct-11 Kiho Ogawa, Miyuki Nagii, Kun Liu, Gurng Yang, Mari ?, Aya Tabei, Yukina Maeda Party at UUCM for Kiho and Miyuki visiting from Japan
Nov-11 Komine Oasmu Ota – home stay 2 nights
Nov-11 Kiho Ogawa Visit from Japan 1 week
Nov-11 Miyuki Nagai Visit from Japan 2 nights
Dec-11 ? Emiko Naito Visit from Japan
Dec-11 Jan-12 Menlong Yao Visit
Dec-11 Jan-12 Aya Tabei Winter break with us
Mar-12 Aya Tabei Spring break with us
Mar-12 Yukina Maeda Spring break with Weltners
Mar-12 Xinyi Zhu, Qiaoyi, Zhu Spring break with Mary Gardner
Mar-12 Aya Tabei, Yukina Maeda, Xinyi Zhu, Qiaoyi Zhu, Kun Liu, Guang Yang Surprise birthday party for Hugh
? Shino Miyahara Visit from Japan
7/9/2009 Sep-09 Menlong Yao, Jie Meng many events