Host Family Experiences with BMX Riders

From 1 to 4 May, 2001


What's BMX?
  (Mikie Nakayama)
Note as a Host Family for BMX Competitiors
  (Akitoshi Hasegawa)
My First Experience as a Host Family
  (Yaeko Kawasumi)
Four Days with Luke
  (Yoshikazu Kondo)

On 3 and 4 May 2001, the Pan Pacific BMX Championships Joetsu was held at Kanayasan Race Track. Some 40 foreign riders participated, and 7 riders and coaches from Australia and New Zealand had a chance to stay at Japanese homes of JASJ (Japan Australia Society of Joetsu) members. The followings are the essays of those who accepted Australian riders. 

What's BMX?

Written by Mikie Nakayama
Translated into English by Miyoko Uchiyama

I knew nothing about BMX when I was asked to be a host family for BMX competitors. I had been nervous for about a week before the championships began because I didn't have confidence in my spoken English and couldn't rely on my husband who is not interested in English at all.

As the day they arrived in Joetsu was brought forward a day, I was upset because I was not ready to welcome them. At last I decided to communicate with them using body language when they wouldn't understand my English. But to tell the truth, despite this decision on the third day of their stay at my house, I was so nervous that my stomach began to ache because I couldn't communicate with Darren well. I really wanted my children to come back to help me to communicate with him.

When I first watched the competition on May 3, I was shocked to see how exciting these competitions were.
at an all-you-can-eat restaurant
At an all-you-can-eat restaurant

On that day children came back home at last, so I planned to have dinner together at my house with Darren. I prepared what to say to him and came to see him at the competition venue after his races. But as it took me time to shop for dinner, I was late to the venue. So I didn't get to hear that the schedule for dinner had been changed. Darren tried to explain to me about it while driving home, and I was panicking because I couldn't understand what he said.

What Darren actually said was, "Some competitors and their host family members are going to a shopping mall and later go out to have dinner together. So you don't have to make dinner."
When I understood his words, my next question was: "What shopping mall and when?".
Darren's answer was this: "Yoshi Kondo will call your husband." Darren must have been exhausted trying to convey such an easy thing to me. I was sorry for him about my poor English and wondered if he wouldn't ask me much after that. I really regretted that I hadn't had English lessons from Mr. Kondo.

Anyway through this experience, many good memories and wonderful encounters with Darren and warm hearted people were left in my heart like jewels.

I really appreciate all that Mr. and Mrs Kondo, Ms. Kawazumi, and Mr. Hasegawa did. How about having a reunion named "BMX host family brotherhood"?

Note as a Host Family for BMX Competitiors

Written by Akitoshi Hasegawa
Translated into English by Miyoko Uchiyama

I was a host family for Michael (19) and Jamie (20), who were competitors in the BMX championships. Both of them were a little bit nervous when we met each other for the first time. But from the second morning, as they had relaxed enough to have a large breakfast, they could take part in the competition in good condition.

On one hand Michael seemed to be shy but on the other his focus on the race was great. He won all his preliminary races. But sadly he didn't win his final because he came off his bike. A colour photo of him wearing his yellow racing suit was on the May 4 edition of The Joetsu Times. His bike number was #32.
Jamie, Michael & the Hasegawa
Jamie, Michael, and the Hasegawa family

Jamie was popular because he looked like a famous actor Leonard Dicaprio. He was a friendly and outgoing boy. He didn't seem to be satisfied with his result in the race, but looked like he was enjoying his short stay in Japan.

It was surprising how much they improved with using chopsticks day by day. They were quite in favour of the restaurant called "Joetsu Viking," which Mr. Kondo introduced them

I appreciate the way Mr. Kondo took care of us very much. This was a new and great experience for our family with little tension. I really think it's necessary for me to speak English. If I had communicated with them more, I could have exchanged and discussed my opinions to reach a deeper understanding between us. Anyway this opportunity became a great motivation for me to study English.

My First Experience as a Host Family

Written by Yaeko Kawasumi
Translated into English by Miyoko Uchiyama
Grant, the PanPacific Champion, & Akira
Grant, the PanPacific Champion
& Akira

I'm Yaeko Kawasumi. This was my first experience as a host family. About a week before the homestay began, Mr. and Mrs.Kondo asked me to be a host family because host families were lacking. So I made up my mind to accept their offer because I have some vacant rooms now. I think it is only fair as I let my next-door neighbour's children stay at my house.

I'm a kind of a happy-go-lucky person and don't think it is too serious that I don't speak good English. So Mr. Grant White (Yogie) must be embarrassed to communicate with us using both English-Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries. I feel sorry for him coming from Australia, so far away and looking forward to a wonderful homestay in Japan. But to tell the truth, Yogie spoke very slowly to let us understand what he said and tried to understand what we said. He is kind enough to look in the English-Japanese dictionary to communicate with us. I was worried in case he couldn't do his best in the competition because he was staying at my house whose family members didn't know what BMX was. But despite our anxiety, he got the second prize in his first round race on the first day of the competition and on the second day at second round race, he won. We were very relieved to know the result.

At first I thought it would be rather better for him to stay at a hotel than at my house because we couldn't communicate in English well. But in the end we were happy he came, as he was like one of our family members even after a short stay at my home. Yogie was always friendly to my kids and played with them very often.

We went to the BMX competition venue for two days to cheer for him. We hoped he would finish the race without falling off. We cheered for him like we did for our kids in the school sports.

When I heard that he would leave a day earlier than scheduled, I felt so lonely. I really would have liked to talk with him more and understand him better. I'm ashamed to say that I had tears in my eyes when I saw him off at the station. I also wept at home the day before he left. This was because I couldn't compose myself for the thing I had first experienced. I'm really thankful to Mr. and Mrs. Kondo for giving me this wonderful chance to be a host family. I feel that the encounter with Yogie was wonderful and showed me the necessity of speaking English. My husband and I have begun to study English from the first stage and have also begun to save money for the trip to Australia.

I also appreciate how Ms. Nakayama, Mr. Hasagawa and Mr. and Mrs Kondo took care of the hosts who took part in this program for the first time. If there is another chance, I'd be glad to join you again.

Four Days with Luke

Written and Translated into English by Yoshikazu Kondo

On the afternoon of 1 May, I really enjoyed a two-hour dinner with Australian BMX riders, whose ages ranged from 19 to 28. The younger riders looked a little nervous, upon meeting their host families for the first time, while 28-year-old riders had a lively conversation with theirs.

We, the Kondo family, accepted 20-year-old Luke Madill. Kelly, a coordinator traveling from Australia with them, asked me to accommodate him, because he needed someone with whom to speak English since he was a bit tense in coping with his first experience with a Japanese family. As I had exchanged email with her beforehand, I was able to speak with her easily. I thought Kelly would be male, but I wasn't disappointed because she turned out to be a wonderful lady who had lived in Japan previously and as a result had a good command of Japanese. Enjoying his strong Aussie accent, I had a pleasant chat with Mr. Abe Schneider, Director of UCI, who lives in Perth. He visited here as an official as well as commentator for the races of Elite Class.

Luke's first day in a Japanese home went like this: He met my family, took a shower and went to bed at 10 o'clock. All the riders were well self-disciplined and regulated their daily lives till the end of the races. We, the host families, were concerned about what kind of meals to serve them, but needn't have worried because they brought their favorite cereals and sugar etc. from home. We were able to supplement that with some fried eggs and tea. No worries at all!

After having spent some time with us, Luke seemed to become familiar with my family. I learned from him later that he was very promising among Australian riders and demonstrated his ability by reaching the finals on both days. On the first day, he finished fourth and on the second day, unfortunately, he was placed seventh because he didn't make a good start, toppling over with Michael, a fellow rider, right after the starting gate opened. According to him, the previous month, he participated in a BVD commercial for a Japanese market, and now we see him smile on TV.
at the race track
At the Race Track
The Kondo, Australian riders, and Abe

Yasuna, our youngest child, tried most of all to make positive impression upon Luke. He smiled, mumbled something and walked up to him. Tomoyuki, our first son, was too shy to talk to him and tried to hide at first. Later, however, he asked a barrage of questions, such as: "Why doesn't he take a bath instead of always taking a shower?" "Why does he eat cereal everyday" etc. Asumi, our first daughter, who takes English lessons, didn't say anything to him. Whenever possible, she hid from him, which greatly disappointed us as her parents.

On 4 May, the riders, together with their host families, had the only opportunity to dine together. After pondering for some time over what dishes to offer them and at which restaurant to dine, we finally decided to eat at a nearby all-you-can-eat restaurant where we could choose dishes from a wide variety. A big group of us, including four Australian riders, two officials, namely Abe from Australia and Eddy from Holland, and some 20 members of host families, went to a restaurant. Our guests liked it so much that they went as far as to say that they would like to return there the next day after the race. I know there are many all-you-can-eat restaurants or buffet restaurants in Australia, but the one at which they dined seemed uniquely Japanese to them. At the center of a table was a grill on which we put slices of beef, pork, or chicken--not beefsteak or pork steak--and sizzled. They ate a lot!

Here is a tip for those who would like to accept a homestay guest in the near future. Rice and curry and spaghetti appeal to Australians. Also a Japanese style all-you-can-eat restaurant is the best bet.

One Australian rider who enjoyed the Japanese way of life went to dine at a "mawari sushi" restaurant whose Aussie English equivalent is a "sushi train." A wonderful phrase!

Early in the morning on 5 May, we went to Naoetsu Station to see our friends off. At the North Entrance, I found a newly installed statue of a girl wearing a T-shirt, a cap and socks which American riders "kindly" dressed up with, saying, "She looks cold!" I am sure the BMX sticker they fixed to her is still on her head. We all stood for some photos there with the statue.

The host families, together with the officials, saw the riders off, waving and shouting, "See you soon." I saw Ms. Kawasumi weeping, saying later that her first experience of host family was great and made a significant positive impression upon her. That kind of sentiment made me happy because I was the one who strongly encouraged her to be a host.