Saturday, August 16, 2008

Extraordinary Bloggers

I am so pleased to see that six participants have already posted to their blogs on their first day at home (Ayumi, Emily, Misa, Sahori, Risa, and Sachi). Kudos to you ladies for being the first--but I hope not the only--ones to keep your blogs going!

I have scheduled a chat for Saturday, September 27 at 10 a.m. EDT (11 pm in Tokyo). Everyone mark your calendars and join us at Tapped In!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Don't Go!

Wow, I can't believe this will be my last post for the AGU 2008 blog. What an amazing, hilarious, wonderful, interesting, and exciting two weeks.

Staying up ALL night Thursday night/Friday morning was well worth the exhaustion I'm feeling right now. I had a lot of fun playing a few last games of volleyball, sharing one last American meal with you all, hanging out in the hotel, drinking Slurpees, practicing billiards at 4 in the morning, learning new games, and just soaking up our last few hours together.

Also, I want to thank each and every one of you for our goodbye surprise on the bus. It was so well planned out and was very special to me. I love my Princess crown and will keep it in my room to remind me of you all. Additionally, thank you for the kind comments on my card, they really mean a lot to me. Although it was hard saying goodbye at the airport, saying goodbye is just one step needed before we can reunite. I hope that you all contact me if you ever come hang out in America again!

In closing, I want to remind you all of how lucky you guys are to have each other. Right now, you have nineteen new friends who understand what you've been through the past two weeks. If you experience culture shock or are just "homesick" for the Quality Inn, you have so many people to look through pictures and laugh at memories with. I want you all to remain in touch with me, but more importantly I hope you remain in touch with eachother because you all have shared such a great experience together.

Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Your friend,

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Quick note, I will be emailing you all at your Gmail accounts so be sure to check them! If you do not recieve an email with a list of everybody's contact information, it means I have the wrong address and you need to let me know!!


Was it only two weeks ago that we welcomed the group to the United States? The time has gone by so fast. The program has been intensive and intense. Although most of the students claimed they were not ready to leave, I think that if they had stayed any longer they would have collapsed from sleep deprivation. Most of them solved the problem of early check-out by staying up all night!

We all met at the Quality Inn at 7:30 a.m. and by 8:00 were loaded on the Terrapin bus and on our way to Dulles International Airport, where it all began 15 days ago. The trip passed quickly because the group had prepared a very original thank-you "ceremony," which began with them setting off a firecracker (having fortunately warned the bus driver that this was going to happen); continued with the presentation of thank-you cards on which every participant had written a personal message to each of us; and ended with each participant taking the microphone to say thank you. We were all very touched by their words and impressed by their English!

After everyone had checked their luggage, we hung around taking pictures for a while, trying to put off the inevitable--but eventually, we said our final goodbyes (some very tearful) as the group passed through security and out of sight. (There was a lot of American-style hugging too.)

Nikki, Joe, and Mike passed out from exhaustion on the ride back to College Park (see slideshow). As I write this at 4:30 pm, I imagine twenty Japanese students in a similar state on a plane traveling west (or north?). Sweet dreams!

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Everyone has promised to keep blogging and to meet at Tapped In to chat. I hope you will keep these promises! I've set the next chat for Saturday, September 27, at 11 pm (Tokyo)/9 a.m. (EDT). Mark your calendars, and make sure your computer is configured for chat with Java Runtime prior to that day!) You can check this by logging in to Tapped In as a guest and seeing whether the chat screen appears.) You can also visit my virtual office (NinaTL_Ofc) to check on the date and time for the next chat. See you in cyberspace!


On Thursday, the last full day in the United States, we marked the end of the program with a farewell reception in the Stamp Union. There were speeches (by MEI Associate Director Linda Sahin, who oversees AGU in America, and also Heather, Nina, and the mentors), lots of food and many photo ops:

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Afterwards, the participants and the mentors went off to play for a while before going back to the hotel to pack. They then "pulled an all-nighter," as we say, but I will leave that to the mentors to blog about!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One day left! :-(

Yesterday was Wednesday and there were only two days to go. After classes and hitting the library to see the Prange collection the group went on to play several games of bowling... I was very impressed with many of the girls' bowling ability, but not too much with the guys'! Just kidding! After bowling, we all went to Shoppers supermarket and then Target. I think a lot of people enjoyed the supermarket and Target. After Target I and two others ran over to Petsmart and pet some cats... Unfortunately, I keep forgetting I am allergic to cats and was sneezing the entire night! Afterwards we went to some food plaza and I went to an African-Caribbean restaurant. I got something called Jama-Jama! It was really good! We then headed on to play putt-putt and go to the batting cages! I wasn't very good at the batting cages, I didn't even manage to hit a single fast ball! Rolling down hills afterward brought everyone to a good mood.

I'm sad to say, only one more day away till the return of the AGU.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Last Day in Washington

Yesterday, we went back to Washington to give everyone a final look at the Nation's Capital. The Aoyama students got a VIP tour around the Capitol building from Congressman Cummings' assistants. We walked from the congressman's office building to the Capitol through some underground tunnels. We started in the lower levels of the Capitol and saw the old Supreme Court where 12 men ruled in the 19th century that slaves could be regulated as property. I thought the room was very dark and a little creepy, almost like a cave.
Afterwards we walked up to the rotunda and saw the inside of the Capitol's dome. George Washington was painted on a fresco depicting him as a Greek god. Around the dome's circumference is a frieze that depicts the history of America from Columbus' landing to the birth of aviation. Finally, to leave the capitol we took the "world's shortest subway" and it was indeed very short.
We walked from the Capitol building to the White House via the the National Mall, stopping in at the Botanical Gardens on the way. The walk was very long and on the way I talked with Saaya and Sachi about Habitat for Humanity in Japan. Habitat is an organization that builds housing for low income families around the world. I was surprised to hear that Sachi is going to help build houses in Thailand later this summer.
In front of the White House we got some "Kodak moments" with the Aoyama students. Joe asked a police officer (who I thought looked like Wesley Snipes) if he could take a picture with us. "No, sir," he said stoically. Nice try, Joe.
Back at College Park we ate at an Israeli pita place. We were all impressed by Joe's fluency in Hebrew. The food was very good and it seemed like everyone enjoyed what they ordered. Towards the end of the meal we were joined by Sachi and Nadav, Japanese majors and friends of Joe. They were very nice and we hope to see them again tonight.

I apologize for the late post. See you guys in a few hours.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Burtonsville BBQ

I am currently sitting in my family room looking at people petting my cat, listening to people speak Japanese out on my backporch, and thinking about how good Grass is at basketball. I am in Burtonsville, Maryland with all the AGU participants.

We arrived in our monster truck vans around 6 o'clock. We had a very traditional summer meal including burgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, and potato salad. For dessert Heather melted chocolate and cut up some delicious fruit.

After everybody was stuffed full of American goodies, everybody split up around the house and entertained themselves. Some people tried "American lemonade" (jalapeno juice and water). Mike actually liked it and drank half the bottle. Some people also had a chance to practice their pinball and billiard skills. I'm not sure who the champions were, so you all will have to tell me.

Out front, we worked up a sweat playing basketball. I was surprised how good Ice and Grass were. Also, Emily is a great defender and is really tough! Then we played knockout with everybody. Dad joined but got knocked out right away every time. I think he needs to practice more before playing the Japanese students again!

The students also had a chance to meet my two cats, Yogi and Tori. Tori was in heaven because everybody was giving her attention and petting her. I think that some of the students want to put her in their luggage and take her home!

All in all, we had a great time at my house. Now I'm off to go join in another activity. I am always so impressed how much energy you all have. = )

Your friend,

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Crabcakes & Hot Dogs

Nikki described how we were all charmed by Baltimore on Friday in her post!! I have lived here for 8 years, and I must confess that I am under its charming spell. It was my pleasure to plan this trip for them to experience a bit more of Maryland during their stay. My favorite part of the day was watching the students at the American Visionary Art Museum--not your ordinary museum as they soon discovered. However, to truly experience culture, one must experience the food!! Check out the photos of crabcakes and the Orioles' ballpark hotdogs that the students gladly devoured!! (Don't be scared of Masahiro's two-headed creature!!)

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Inter-American Development Bank

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After enjoying cuisine from around the world in the cafeteria, the AGU students heard from 3 employees at the Inter-American Development Bank. After their briefing, they all took a turn at the gavel in the Director's Boardroom!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Washington, D.C. Mall & More Volleyball

Today we headed out to the Washington Mall to visit the National Museum of the American Indian. I'd been there before and I feel like I never spend enough time looking around. We ate lunch at the cafeteria where they served authentic Native American dishes from regions around the country. Ayumi got some kind of unusual drink and it was fun watching Nozomu's reaction to its unusual taste. The exhibits were interesting because they served as a testament to the ethnic and cultural diversity of this land even before it was established as a country.
After NMAI, I took a group to the National Air and Space Museum, which is a place you can't help but like. We saw the Wright Brothers exhibit that displayed the first plane ever. For some reason my favorite part was the original patent for "Flying Machines". It's amazing how that little piece of paper has affected our modern world. To finish off the day on a mall we watched a movie about black holes in the Einstein Planetarium. I thought it was kind of cool but a lot of my group ended up dozing off because of the dark lighting and reclined seats.
Afterward we went to what some might call a playground (for lack of a better word) and Masatoshi, Nobuya, and Ryohei performed some acrobatics. Joe and I weren't able to swing around a 7 foot tall pull up bar, but the other guys did it with ease. In the end they helped push me up to the top and we all took a picture. So much for showing off! I'll have to practice more tomorrow when we go to Voice of America.
Back at College Park we played more volleyball with Nikki and her friend, Chris. I did not have a good day and ended up costing my team a few games. Sorry guys. I will compliment Tomoko on her awesome plays though: the experience really shows. Later, Masahiro tried to teach me how to spin a basket/soccer ball on my finger like the Harlem Globetrotters. I made a wager with him that I'd be able to do it by Friday and if I can do it for five seconds, I'll get a Japanese souvenir. Wish me luck!
We finished off the night with a dinner at Potbelly and a game of "Keep Away" with me, Nozomu, and Yuya. Nozomu was often the "monkey in the middle" but he was a good sport and made some good steals from Yuya, Nobuya, and me. By the way, I don't recommend having an Oreo milkshake and then taking part in an hour of intense physical activity. That's all I'm going to say.

Good night!


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Yesterday, Friday, we spent a beautiful day in the city of Baltimore. We boarded a University of Maryland bus around 10 and headed of to Charm City. Our first stop was the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). The sculptures, paintings, postcards, and other art work were all very interesting and beautiful. Most of the subject matter had to do with each individual person expressing their faith. In addition to looking at American modern art, the AGU students also spent a lot of time in the unique gift shop! In fact, some people spent more time looking around there than in the actual museum!

After AVAM we walked over to the Inner Harbor for lunch. A lot of the students had crabcakes, which are very famous in Maryland. Then we boarded the Water Taxi and headed over to Fells Point. At Fells Point a majority of us got Maggie Moo's ice cream. People got some very interesting flavours, including a bright blue ice cream that tasted just like cotton candy! After we all enjoyed our ice cream we jumped back on the Water Taxi to go pedal boating. It was very inexpensive and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves. I was very proud that nobody fell into the water!

Next, we spent an hour or two sitting on the steps in the Inner Harbor. Some people went shopping, some played cards, and some (cough, cough Pig cough, cough) scared little children with a two headed baby.

Finally, we headed over to Camden Yards to watch the Orioles play baseball! I had such an amazing time sitting next to Smiles and A-love-yumi. We all chanted (CHARGE!), cheered, and clapped. We watched a very exciting game that included two Oriole homeruns, a triple, and a victory! After the big win we watched a great fireworks display!

After the game we walked to meet our bus. The bus finally came around 11:30 and we all headed back to College Park.

Thank you, everybody, for another fun day.
Your friend,

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Washington Weather

As I was walking to my car yesterday afternoon, I saw these storm clouds gathering over campus and I wondered if you would get wet on your field trip. Did you remember to take your umbrellas?

We have been extremely lucky with the weather so far this year. The first two weeks in August are usually very hot and humid, but it has been really nice, and rain has not spoiled our days--except for yesterday, briefly.

Today the weather is drop-dead beautiful for your trip to Baltimore. I hope you all have a fabulous day! My daughter Vicki and I are headed to Maryland's Eastern Shore to spend a few days with my sister. It is her birthday Sunday and there will be a party to celebrate. I am sure I will have a great time, but I will miss seeing your smiling faces! I'll see you on Monday.

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Today was an interesting day for me! We went to a bank - the Inter-American Development Bank. Although I could not open an account there we were able to enter the massive building, eat a delicious meal, have a wonderful lecture in Japanese - that I understood so much of - about IDB and then tour the National Smithsonian Zoo. After returning to the Quality Inn a large group went to play volleyball and another group went eat Chipotle!

I enjoyed the Chipotle burrito! I then returned home to get lots of sleep!

Joseph P.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Newseum & D.C.

Today we went to the Newseum in downtown Washington with the Aoyama group. The museum showcases the history and impact of the media on politics, religion, and American culture in general. The most interesting exhibit for everyone seemed to be the September 11th exhibit. A piece of mangled steel from Ground Zero was on display as well as the front pages of world newspapers printed immediately after the attack. The movie that accompanied the exhibit presented eyewitness reports of the attacks in New York which were quite moving.
Afterward, we split into groups and walked around Chinatown. D.C.'s Chinatown is too small! We looked in a few stores but everyone was tired so I took them back to the nice fountain sitting area outside of the Archives metro station where we rested up and talked for a while. It was nice talking to Tomoya who gave me suggestions about good grad schools in Japan for studying Business Administration. When everyone was in the mood for walking again we walked down to the White House and took some group photos. Tomoya's SLR camera is great--13 megapixels makes me jealous. For dinner we stopped at one of my favorite D.C. chains, Teaism, which serves a mix of Asian cuisine and quality tea. Many of us ordered the Ochazuke, which is tea poured over rice and a topping such as fish.
We met up with Joe again at the Metro station and played onigokko all the way back to the Quality Inn. Joe as the Oni was too fast to run from and I was particularly slow at catching Nobuya and Masatoshi. I need to get in shape! Billiards at Laundry World was the evening's choice of activity for some and we stayed until midnight playing. We played in teams to compensate for a lack of pool tables and Kei helped me play agaisnt Masanori and Sanae, but in the end Sanae won the game, knocking in the 8-ball with a well-placed shot. According to Masanori, it's about $5 per person for an hour of pool in Japan, so it must have been nice to play for $1 a game even if it was at Laundry World.

Hope you guys get some sleep tonight!

Also as you may have noticed, I made a mistake with my previous post. In Onigokko the Oni is the one who tags, not the one everyone chases. Sorry.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Listening & Speaking Class

Today in class we focused on topics that are difficult to speak about in English AND Japanese. The students were asked to divide up in 3 groups according to their majors. I wanted to bring up some topics to get them thinking and speaking about issues relevant to their majors--Communications, Economics, and Politics. To start the conversation, we watched 2 youtube videos about the Virginia Tech shooting and the Beijing Olympics. These youtube videos brought up many issues for us to think about such as:

*the role of the media in how it covers a story such as the VT shooting,
*the role of politics in the Beijing Olympics and whether or not the government should use the Olympics for political purposes (boycotting or not??), and
*the issue of economics as it relates to the Olympics or other government concerns.

Each group discussed some of these roles. My group talked about the differences in how the news from the United States reports events and how the same news is sometimes reported very differently in Japan because of interest/importance/perspective. Though this was a difficult class, the students did a great job practicing their English skills. Thanks also to Ji Won and Shania for joining our class--we could not have done it without you. Thanks!!!

Pentagon City

Today while I was sitting in the hotel, Nozomu came running in, sweating like crazy. "What's wrong?" I asked. "Onigokko!" he said. Onigokko is the Japanese equivalent of "tag" where someone is a "Oni" or demon and everyone chases him. Masanori is the oldest so he got the honor of "Oni".

In the afternoon we went to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City with some of the Aoyama gang to do some shopping. This time Joe's friend Junior and Junior's friend Koran (whose name I hope I spelled correctly) as well as Shania came along too. Joe and I split up into groups and went shopping. After spending a while in Victoria's Secret, Ryohei emerged from the store with some presents for his girlfriend and the girls with some knickknacks for themselves. Masatoshi and Yuya, who were too timid to enter, bought some chocolate at the Lindt chocolate store. After trying some sample chocolate, my stomach started growling, asking me to fulfill its primal need. Misa, Kyoko, Sachi and I got some suprisingly filling mediterannean food from Au Bon Pain for only a few dollars, allowing us to avoid tipping and expensive entrees. After dinner, Masatoshi, Ryohei, Yuya and I headed up to American Eagle to get some clothes. I was suprised to learn that in Japan pant sizes are only labeled with width and not length. I imagined how great it would be if I didn't have to worry about jean lengths when buying clothing for my 6'5" figure.

Afterwards we headed back to College Park. Joe spent some time with Ayumi who wasn't feeling so well. We miss you Ayumi! Get better soon!

I apologize for not posting more pictures, hopefully everyone else took enough to make up for my complacency.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Volleyball fun!

Today, I met the AGU students at the Quality Inn at around 4:30. Ten of the students stayed in College Park with me for some outdoor fun and a pizza party! First we went to the brand new volleyball court at the University of Maryland. My friend Chris joined us and we played a lot of volleyball. First, we played girls versus boys and the boys won. Then we mixed the teams up and played three very exciting games, with Team Grass winning 2-1! Afterwards, the boys played soccer, some of the girls played badminton, and some played cards.

Then we ordered pizza and went back to my apartment to eat and relax. Everybody got to meet two of my roommates, Qing and Kristin. While we ate the pizza, we listened to some Japanese music on Risa's iPod. Then the students got a tour of my room which they seemed to enjoy. Before heading back to the QI, many of the AGUers played Mario Kart. I'm not sure who the champion was, but everybody had a lot of fun.

I hope that everybody enjoyed their day.

Your friend,


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Blogging with the AGUers

I have now had three classes with this year's AGU in America participants. I find them very quick and cooperative. Every single one had followed my suggestion to create a gmail account before leaving Japan, which greatly facilitated blog creation on Saturday. In just three days, the students have created their blogs, published three posts, commented on others' posts, and uploaded their pictures to their blogs and Blogger profiles. Way to go, AGUers!

I observed that at first, almost all the students separated their sentences. I showed them how to write their post as a single paragraph. Now it is time to teach them that when they talk about different topics (e.g., meeting the American students, visiting the Kennedy Center, and dinner), they should have a new paragraph for each topic.

Today, I followed them over to Plant Science 1111 to make sure they knew the way. It's a good thing, too, because they all started up the hill to Stamp Union! (early lunch?) I stayed long enough to take a couple of pictures and missed Shania's visit by a couple of minutes. However, I saw her later at the Dairy, where the group had lunch with Heather and Marie Hallion prior to her lecture on the history of U.S. diplomacy. (I hope the students were able to understand at least half of this very interesting presentation!)

Tomorrow, I am going to teach them how to add links to their sidebar. That will make it easier for them to go from blog to blog, reading and commenting.

Ayumi caught a cold and missed class today. :-( I hope she feels better soon!

John F. Kennedy Center and Dupont Circle

So, today after all the Aoyama and Maryland Japanese language students met, around four o'clock all the Aoyama students met up at the Quality Inn to get dressed and ready for the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. A VERY big building with lots of stages. The view around the center is breathtaking and at the same time housed a nice Jazz ensemble Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Afterward we went to Dupont to eat some sushi! We then came back! In the end we came back very late because the sushi took forever to make. For that reason, this post is being written very late and probably has tons of mistakes... Sorry!

Joseph P.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Old Town Alexandria & Georgetown

Yesterday, we had a BEAUTIFUL day in Old Town Alexandria and Georgetown. The entire group walked to Christ Church to see where George Washington worshiped, and the group even got to sit in his pew which was larger than all the other pews in the church (tall man!!). Additionally, my group saw Washington's townhouse that he used when he visited Alexandria and Gadsby's Tavern where Washington ate and partied!!! We then visited a candy store where we tried many different flavors of taffy and the students bought POUNDS of candy!!! Afterward, we had to eat seafood--the favorite was the Maryland crabcake, a popular delicacy of this area. The fun did not end when we all boarded a boat to Georgetown where the group stayed to enjoy themselves.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Alexandria, Georgetown, and Crazy Eights!

Today was a very fun day! We met at the Quality Inn at 10am and took the Metro to Alexandria, Virginia. In Alexandria we explored some of the historic sites, such as the Church of Christ. This is the church where our first President, George Washington, worshipped. Then we split into groups for some shopping and lunch.

My group went to a pizzeria. There we split two small pizzas and a salad. We got a broccoli and chicken pizza and a shrimp pizza. Afterwards, we did some shopping. Many of the girls got I Love DC shirts and mood rings. Then, we met the rest of the crew for a boat tour from Alexandria to Georgetown. During the boat tour we saw many beautiful sites, such as the Washington monument and the Capitol building.

When we got to Georgetown, everybody split about and went shopping for an hour. After we met up, I took a group of girls to a beautiful field to rest before dinner. We sat in the shade overlooking the water. I taught the girls how to play one of my favorite card games, Crazy Eights. I was surprised how quickly they learned how to play, they beat me every single time! Then they taught me how to play "Wink", which was very fun. During this time we also got to know each other better. We talked about the sports, music, and movies that we all like.

After we were done resting, we went to go eat. We ate at Qdoba, which is a Mexican fast food resteraunt. This was the first time any of the girls had eaten Mexican and I was very impressed at the different types of food they tried. I'm pretty sure that all of the girls enjoyed their food which made me happy because Mexican food is my favorite. When we were finished eating, we walked to the Metro and came back to College Park.

Today was a wonderful day. It was so fun to have the opportunity to get to know each of the students more. I am looking forward to learning more and more about each of you.

Your friend, Nikki
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Campus Tour and Union Station

Today started out with lunch with everyone and then a tour around campus. Unfortunately the only open shops at Stamp Student Union were McDonald's and Chick Fillet so the students didn't get to taste the delights of Sbarro's pizza. We then split up into groups and showed the students our campus. My group braved the heat and followed me to the Campus Recreation Center, Byrd Stadium and Hornbake Plaza, The Mall, McKeldin Library, and Van Munching Hall. Despite all the walking, everyone seemed to like the pool at CRC and Van Munching Hall's spaciousness. I think after two weeks at UMD everyone will have the leg muscles of olympians. After resting up at bit at the Quality Inn we headed out to Union Station on the Metro. At Union we walked around some shops, many of which would have been more suited for the ladies (and my group was all guys). For some reason salad seemed to be the choice of dinner for most of us, except the clever Tomoya, who managed to find some sushi in the food court. I think they overdid it on the wasabi since he grimaced more than once. Afterwards we headed out in the direction of the Capitol building which was visible from the station. We walked up as close as we could to it and everyone took a picture of it. We walked around the capital for a while and then headed back. On the train ride back Nikki and I were suddenly horrified to think that we'd left Masatoshi and Tomoya back at Fort Totten, but apparently those two blended in so well with the Americans on board it was about half a minute before we saw them. Everyone made it back safely and with enough time to catch some sleep for more fun tomorrow.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Fear the Turtle!

Hello! Although it is only 4, the AGU students have had a busy day!

First, we ate lunch at the Stamp Student Union. Many of the students told me that our small sized drinks are bigger than their large ones! To them, it seems like everything is bigger in America.

Afterwards, each of the mentors took a group of students on a tour of the University of Maryland. My group went to Byrd Stadium, where the football team plays and Ludwig field, where the soccer team plays. We even got to see some of the Maryland soccer team practice!

Then we walked towards McKeldin, our library. Outside of McKeldin, the students got to meet Testudo, our mascot. We all rubbed his nose for good luck and went inside the library to cool off. After the library, we walked back towards the hotel and stopped for pictures at the Adminstration building and the beautiful chapel.

Now all the students are resting because tonight is our first night riding the metro into D.C!

I can't wait to get to know each of you better!


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Welcome & Orientation

When I arrived at the hotel this morning, I was greeted by 20 smiling and AWAKE faces!!! Because the AGU students have not adjusted to the time difference, they were awake EARLY and ready for their first full day. They watched a dvd about the University of Maryland, and they were able to hear from UM students in all three of their majors: Communications, Politics, and Economics. After looking at the schedule, many are excited about the upcoming trips to Alexandria, DC, and Baltimore (especially to see a Major League baseball game)!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

First Day!

So today was the first day of AGU in America 2008's program. Everyone seemed to be very excited, albeit a little tired. After leaving the airport, we all traveled through Washington D.C. on the very cool Maryland bus and saw many different parts of D.C., including the White House! After we got back, the students rested a bit, and then went out to dinner. I took my group to Noodles and everyone said the food was either Good or Okay! Afterward, we got ice cream from Cold Stone! We then went to CVS for a bit, and went back to the hotel. It was a long flight and a long day.

I hope you all rest well and are excited and ready to enjoy your time in America.

Welcome Again,

Joseph P.

Arrival at Last!

Finally, the day we have all been waiting for: the arrival of our twenty AGU in American 2008 participants and their escort, Dr. Hitomi Izaka. Here in the US, we began the day at 10:30 with a team meeting at the Quality Inn, then had lunch at Chipotle and then boarded the Terp bus for the ride to Dulles International Airport in Virginia. The day had begun much earlier for Dr. Izaka and the participants, however; in fact, for them August 1, 2008 had about 12 extra hours! We all arrived at the airport at about the same time (3:30 EDT, which would have been 4:30 a.m. August 2 in Japan), but the International Arrivals area was terribly crowded with about 15 planes that had arrived at approximately the same time. I can only imagine what the scene was like in the customs area. It must have been chaotic. We waited for about an hour and a half for the group to appear, but when they did, things went a bit faster. Everyone boarded the bus for the ride to College Park, which took almost two hours because it was rush hour. The driver took us right through Washington, DC, so the group got to see some sights, like the Washington Monument, the White House, the Capitol, and the Lincoln Memorial. (They will see some of these up close very soon!)

When we arrived at the Quality Inn, everyone checked in quickly and went to their rooms to unpack and freshen up before dinner. Heather and I left and the mentors planned to divide the group into three to go to Noodles & Co., Potbelly Sandwich Works, and (I'm not sure where Mike was going to take his group). They must be having dinner now, as I write this.

I was pleased to meet Masanori Sugiura, who is a friend of Ryo Kamiki, one of our AGU2006 participants! I hope I can learn everyone's name in two or three days.

Here is a slideshow of pictures from today:
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