Photos by Morgan Plunkett
When junior Dylan Krieg was eight, he watched bright city lights and fast cars zoom across the large screen in “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift.” It was then he knew he wanted to visit Tokyo, Japan. This year Krieg’s desires of being in Japan will become a reality. After this summer when he will study abroad, Krieg has a plan of graduating high school, getting an associate’s degree and heading back over to Japan to teach English and study at the University of Tokyo.
For four weeks this summer Krieg will travel 6,212 miles away to Japan with LanguBridge Education Centre, a travel agency that sends student abroad. His parents helped him to apply to this program and thought that it would be a great way to gain experience and to really see if it would be a place to live in the future, according to his mother Stacy Krieg.
While he is abroad, Krieg will be taking various classes and teaching an English language class class at a high school. The rest of his days will be spent traveling around Japan with his host family. He knows that he wants to teach them what America really is like and present America in a positive light. Krieg is going to try to keep politics out of it, so he can focus on the culture instead.
“I just can’t wait to be over there, I can’t stop thinking about it,” Krieg said. “Ever since I saw [Fast and Furious] it has been some place I have wanted to travel to because the culture just seems different than here.”
With different culture comes different language. Since August, Krieg and tutor Suzie Chhouk have practiced Japanese for two hours every Sunday morning. During this time the first hour is usually spent speaking in Japanese only, according to Krieg. The second hour is spent going over grammar and learning how to write. Krieg carries around his notebook wherever he goes to help himself practice as much as possible.
“Seeing Dylan progress has been wonderful to watch,” Chhouk said. “His handwriting has gotten better, and [he] is able to read much quicker and able to retain more and more words.”
Along with attending tutoring once a week, Krieg watches YouTube videos and practices Japanese on his own time. Krieg has written a full story in Japanese and continues to add more words to his vernacular as he continues to practice. He is focusing on learning simple phrases so that he will be able to communicate and understand what is going on around him.
During the school day Krieg will switch off between teaching his lessons to Japanese students and attending various classes in Japanese. However, he will be with other American exchange students while attending various classes. LanguBridge prepares each student by helping them make a plan for what they will be teaching.
Krieg must submit a plan of what he is going to teach two weeks he departs for his trip, but he has yet to decide what he wants to focus on. In the notebook that Krieg carries around with him, there are basic lessons and translations from English to Japanese and vice versa. LanguBridge can review the plan and make any slight changes necessary. Sophie Chen, a consultant for LanguBridge, answers any questions that students may have before going abroad.
“The goal of the program is that each student gets the inspiration to know more about the language and the culture [in Japan, Korea, or China],” Chen said. “It is an immersion program to help them gain knowledge of the various cultures while also forming lifelong friendships.”
Teaching other kids English has always been something that has interested him. By the end of the program, Krieg hopes that he will be more of a fluent speaker in Japanese; right now he can understand what people are saying but finds it difficult to speak and write the language.
Outside of the classroom Krieg will be able to experience the true culture of Japan with his host family and actually getting a taste of the Japanese culture. Every day Krieg will have a 90-minute ride to and from school learning to get around a large foreign country.
“I want to try so much new food and just really take in the entire culture,” Krieg said. “The best way to learn about a different culture is to just immerse yourself in it.”
Stacy knows that this is the perfect opportunity for Krieg to experience what a different culture is really like. Ever since “Fast and Furious,” Stacy has noticed a motivation within Krieg to learn about the culture and the language. Once she knew about his love for Japan and teaching English, she found this program and told him that he should go over and do it.
“When I asked Dylan about his passion for Japan, he mentioned that he is intrigued by their reverence and respect as a culture,” Stacy said. “This experience for Dylan will be life changing regardless of how it affects his future [to live in Japan].”