On the UN tour. Sakuya's dream is to work in the UN in the futre.

Sakuya Nishitani is Spark's first high school student customer.
 
From morning to afternoon, during weekdays, she studied English at Bluedata International (ESL school). After school she took private English conversation lessons. On Saturdays, she volunteered at a Japanse elementary school in Manhattan called Japanese Children's Society. Sakuya also did lots of fun activities all over the city. Her schedule was so tight doing lots of things everyday just like New Yorkers!
 
I would like to mention two things about her...her courage and guts...which are her wonderful personality qualities. Her courage is what I observed from the first day of her NY life.
 
Sakuya was staying in a share house which I, Spark Ai, used to run and live back then. On her arrival day in NY, she did not arrive at the share house on the expected arrival time. When she finally came to the house, almost one hour later than the planned arrival time, I was really relieved. (Needless to say, I was dying from big concerns for her safety. ) Before her trip to NY, in the orientation Skype session I set up, I advised her to take a cab from JFK to the share house. However, to my surprise she managed to get to my house by subway! She calmly said, "I tried taking subway because judging from what I saw on a subway map and google map it did not seem too difficult for me to get here by subway.".  How brave! Courage and guts she had indeed. It could be hard for even an adult traveling from JFK to their NY destination by subway on their first visit. (I would not recommend to any first-comers to NY to do the same thing!) Sakuya did it smoothly and with such courage.
 
From that moment, I predicted that Sakuya would bravely make her life in NY. I felt like she was just like my little sister who got to grow mentally, little by little, everyday. So when she left NY to go back to Japan, I felt proud of her and proud of myself that I could assist her life in NY. But I felt like there was a big whole in my heart...missing her so much.

 

She made good friends with New York high school students. Here they are at NY Aquarium.

 

At the Egyptioan Art section, Metropolitan Museum.

WIth Eric, a TV personality of NY1 and a radio DJ, when she went to Broadway show for BEATLES.

 

Farwell pary at the share house.

 

During her stay, Sakuya used to say, "I wanna do as many things as possible can in NY."
And she did! In addition to studying English and doing volunteer... this is what she did in Ny:
 
ーWatching a baseball game at Yankees stadium
ーVisiting Metropolitan Museum
ーWorld Trade Center memorial
ーUN tour
ーBroadway musical
ーConey Island beach
ーBrooklyn bridge
ーNew York Aquarium
ーCentral Park
ーProspect Park
ーPicnics
ーShopping
ーCultural exchanges with American high school students
She lived with international roommates in the share house and she did everything by herself. Cooking, cleaning, laundry were all done so well and no mother there to do it as it would be for her in Japan. In NY, faraway from her mother, she had to do all by herself.
Another story to share...she used to wake up early every morning and did 40 min walking with me for exercise in Manhattan on the way to school. She never complained about my fast paced walking, always following me, and never skipped this every morning walking with me. See, she is really tough! I guarantee that she would be a New Yorker in the future!
 
Awhile after Sakuya went back to Japan, her mother told me, "I never saw her studying English harder than before she came back from NY. I have no idea how long she can keep it but it seems like she learned and became a bit matured."
 
Right now Sakuya is preparing hard for entering college. Spark Ai is hoping to meet her as a college student back in NY again after passing the college entrance exam this spring.

 

 

Sakuya Nishitani (High school 2nd grade, Summer 2013)