Japanese Student Explores American West

(Ai Namima is an international business student and Japanese language instructor at Jewell.)
Ai Namima at Antelope Canyon, Navajo Reservation, Arizona.

Ai Namima at Antelope Canyon, Navajo Reservation, Arizona.

By Ai Namima – Over fall break, I managed to travel for six days with three other international students and one American friend, two of whom I have only known for two months. During our travels we spent three nights in hotels and two just sleeping in the car. I am truly glad that we had the opportunity to take this trip together and especially to visit a place that I have dreamed of seeing, Antelope Canyon. We drove to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, which took about 20 hours one way. During the drive I remembered that it was tenth grade when I first learned about the geography of west and southwest America: the great mountain ranges and the flat tableland. In my home country of Japan, it is considered a long trip if we drive for three hours. In the United States, however, we were able to drive much longer than three without even seeing an ocean.

A canyonMy purpose for traveling is not merely to go and see the place itself. The most important things for me are to see how I feel when I get there, to share my feelings with others, to take photographs, and to expand my sense of value by experiencing a place where I have never been before. Additionally, I am always fascinated by how tourism affects the lifestyle of people in the area. For example, Antelope Canyon is becoming popular, which is changing the dynamic of the lives of people who live there. A Navajo woman who lives in the area opened the canyon to the public. I talked to a tour guide, who is a granddaughter of the woman, and she told me that the canyon was their playground until they started the tourism business in 1997. Now it serves as a family business, bringing in profit for the Navajos.

When I worked in the travel industry for couple of years in Japan, I developed a deeper interest in visiting different places and learning about how the United States built its cities and how its culture developed. People of the U.S. must have required much energy to live, survive, dream, and succeed.

G canyonI like to travel spontaneously. We determined our destinations in advance but did not book hotels until the day before reaching a new location, since we did not know where our travels would lead us. Sometimes this method of spontaneity can bring the greatest result of fun and unexpected events. We were required to make decisions all the time as a group, which allowed us to understand how we acted as a group in particular situations. By spending our money and time together, we all revealed our values and what is most important in our lives. I am certain that through travelling, you will obtain worthwhile experiences and irreplaceable friends with whom you will share precious time and memories. And that makes you.

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