The Edmond Sun
Edmond Memorial High School senior Christian Gardner soon will be visiting the land of cherry blossoms.
From June 5-19 he will be traveling with a group of seven other Oklahoma students to Japan. The trip is sponsored by the Wings of Rotary District 5750.
Edmond’s Will Beckman, Oklahoma Rotary District 5750 governor, said students from Oklahoma have been traveling to Japan as ambassadors since 1977.
“It is for international understanding and a cultural exchange between the two countries,” Beckman said. “It is one of the best programs that Rotary International has. It builds a great understanding between the students representing the two countries.”
Christian said one of his goals is to travel to as many countries as he can and traveling to Japan will be the first of his bucket list of places to go.
Christian said he got really excited when his mother told him about the trip.
“My mother heard about the trip from a friend at work, and the moment I heard about it four months ago I started looking into it,” Christian said.
An application and interview process is used to select the students for the exchange, and the application process is quite lengthy.
“The application process included sending a picture of me and my friends, of me participating in a hobby and of my home,” Christian said. “I had to write a letter about myself and my daily activities and include what I did from sun up to the time I went to bed. Also, I had to send a transcript and a list of my high school classes.”
Christian said he received a donation of $500 of which he was thankful.
He and his family will be paying for the trip, but once his feet are on the ground in Japan he will be living with an exchange family.
“It will be a good-will trip where I plan on learning about Japan’s culture, standards, country and history while visiting national monuments and popular attractions,” Christian said.
Christian and the seven other Oklahomans will be traveling to Sinjai, a city of about 1 million people which is close to Fukashima and was ground zero for the tsunami that hit in March of 2011.
“The trip could have been to any place in the world and I would still have applied to go,” Christian said. “I want to visit as many countries as I can. I want to see all of the world.”
Christian said his parents have been very supportive of him going to Japan.
Christian has played viola in the school orchestra for six years, and last year started computer classes at Francis Tuttle. He said he enjoys putting computers together and programming them.
Kelly Johnson, chairman of the Wings of Rotary, said more than 400 students from the district have traveled to Japan to the prefectures Miyagi and Iwate, similar to our states.
“The students home stay in Rotarian homes,” Johnson said. “A team of eight students came to our district and recently returned to Japan. The students involved are juniors and seniors in high school and they travel with one adult team leader. The students will probably be staying closer to central Sendai and taking day trips to other areas. The purpose of the trip is to promote international understanding.”
Christian is the son of Mark and Debbie Gardner.