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Flippen Elementary student
bound for Japan

 

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent
 

  Evan Jackson’s “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay this fall should be a doozy.

Evan Jackson, a fifth grader at Flippen Elementary will travel to Japan as one of four junior ambassadors from Georgia.  Special photo

  The Flippen Elementary School fifth-grader is one of only four students from Georgia selected as a junior ambassador for the Asian Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka, Japan in July. The Japan-America Society of Georgia sponsors the program.

  The two-week trip is designed to allow the students to interact with peers from around the world and learn about appreciation for other cultures and mutual understanding, among other things.

  The first step in qualifying for the program for Evan was writing an essay about his understanding of the Japanese word “omoiyari,” which in English is described as a way of thinking about and acting toward oneself and others – “choosing to examine others’ perspectives without judgment,” according to one online definition.

  The essay was accompanied by a picture Evan drew that also explained the word, according to his mother Cara Jackson.

  “It’s kind of like a spirit you have about you and how you approach different situations,” she said. “They are trying to get children to understand that you can reach a common goal with different people no matter what their backgrounds are.”

  In the essay Evan also wrote about what he would share from his own experiences and environment if he went to Japan, as well as what he would be interested in learning.

  The APCC selected a group of entrants and brought them in to interact with each other and some other young people who have made the trip in the past.

  “It was a group interview; more observation than anything,” said Cara Jackson. “There were different games and challenges to see how they respond to other people.”

  The students were also interviewed individually by a panel, and when the process was completed the group selected two girls and two boys.

  The first in a series of meetings with the winners and their families was March 30. Some students from past trips shared their experiences and fielded questions to help them prepare for what lies ahead, Cara Jackson said.

  During the selection process, it had to be determined whether the students could handle a trip like this with cultural differences such as food, combined with the two-week separation from their parents. Evan has never been beyond Canada or the Bahamas on a cruise, but he has flown to California without Mom or Dad to see his grandparents and that experience probably worked in his favor, his mother said.

  “He’s a pretty good student but just like any other kid,” she said. “He’s into sports and his school work, and he’s had a lot of opportunities to be in leadership roles. He’s president of Beta Club at his school and talked about some of the service opportunities he’s had.”

  He is one of three Flippen students whose outstanding work in a 2012 science competition led to a meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington. “That may have been the clincher” in the selection process for this program, Cara Jackson noted.

  Evan and his parents, both of whom are chiropractors who practice in Henry County, are now getting to know the chaperone for the trip better along with the other families. Evan also has to compile some things he likes from his home country that he can share with those he will meet in Japan.

 

 

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