A lovely new family:     by Mie
Here in Oita, we have a beautiful sunny day today after a cold wave left east. In the afternoon, I came up to Oita Cultural Hall to meet a foreign student studying in Japan. We will host him or her during this winter vacation time ranging across the millennium, under a program sponsored by LCIE, or Society for Local Culture & International Exchange.
We first thought we came too early, but many people already crowded the reception table.

In the hall are two banners, written in English and Japanese that read "Welcome to Oita in New Year: the 17th homestay program."
Mr. Akimitsu Hirano, the chairman of LCIE, made a few words in the beginning. LCIE has been promoting a program to host foreign students learning in Japan in order to make them experience grass-roots base exchanges in ordinary homes here in Oita. The program has come to 17th this time, hosting 3,353 students from 108 countries.
This time, 82 students from 19 countries have made application fro the program. Host families are located not only in Oita City but also in Tsukumi, Kujyu, Aki, Nakatsu and other areas in Oita prefecture.

After the greeting of Mr. Hirano, the students welcomed in the room with a clapping of hands by the host families.
A welcome ceremony started with a chorus group of LCIE core members, beginning from an African folk song, followed by Korean, Chinese, and Japanese songs respectively. Two Chinese students joined the chorus to sing a song in Beijing. In the last, all the people sang Japanese song "New Year."
Mr. Hirano welcomes the foreign students, giving mementos to two students who were born today and other four students who will share the birthdays during their home stay periods.

A we-were-their-picture centered by Mr. Hirano.
Now, the meeting moment has come. A student and a host family are called up on the stage to exchange a greeting. We were called up to meet Miss Lillian, a lovely lady from Hong Kong.
After all the procedure of the ceremony was over, Miss Lillian, a lovely and brilliant lady, arrived my house at last. We soon had teatime for welcoming her. She has been in Japan for a year or so and she speaks Japanese very well.
She kindly helped us in preparation of a dinner. As we have never been to Hong Kong until today, we opened an atlas and asked a lot on her island. We hope we will have pleasant days from today.

Mie Home Diary of December, 1999 Diary in 2000 next Lillian