Love 'calm' of Iowa
Sometimes it only takes a visitor from afar to rekindle the average Iowan's appreciation for the brilliance of bean fields and splendor of swine.
Bright-eyed and enthusiastic, 14 high school students from Tokyo, Japan, arrived to Buena Vista University Monday to spend eight days in the Midwest as part of their 17-day tour of the nation, which will also include trips to Arizona's Grand Canyon, Los Angeles and Seattle, Wash. The first-year English students, ages 15 and 16, represent Showa Daiichi Senior High School, an all-boys institution located in the heart of Tokyo. Chaperoned by SDH English teachers Norio Suzuki and Hiromi Watanabe, who served as translators for the group along with Japanese travel agent Koji Sugita, the travelers were escorted by BVU personnel to various attractions throughout the area, including an evening hayride, a day trip to Okoboji, and a special screening of the film 'Men In Black II,' at Vista 3 Theatre.
With a population of more than 12 million, Tokyo is one of the largest and most populated cities in the world. Sugita said that for students on their first visit to the United States, Iowa's spacious acres of farmland, variety of livestock and hundreds of windmills are simply astonishing.
"The center of Tokyo is very populated with many high buildings, people everywhere," said Sugita, who is on his 25th visit to the United States. "Because of that, the country is very different to us. It's a good place, it's beautiful."
Suzuki reflected the opinions of the majority of students on the tour upon saying that, despite the sharp contrast from their homeland, Iowa's beauty remains unparalleled.
"There is so much inspiration in the many cornfields and bean fields," said Suzuki, who is currently on his sixth visit to the United States. "Iowa is full of nature and so calm."
While the trip serves as a summer vacation for the majority of the students on the trip, it also serves as a preview for promising scholars who may opt to study abroad.
"Many of these students will go to college, about 60 or 70 percent," Suzuki said. "Someday, they may want to go to college in America."
While the gracious visitors plan to move on after a week of sightseeing, both the veteran travelers and newcomers list Iowa among their favorite U.S. destinations, and not only for the breathtaking pastoral views.
"Iowa is very friendly, larger towns like New York and L.A. are not so friendly to us," Suzuki said. "And the food is good here. We really like the Italian food, especially pizza."