Nagasaki, Japan – Oct. 30 – Nov. 6 – Inbound

On October 30th, the Friendship Force of Western NC welcomed fourteen ambassadors from the Nagasaki Club. It was a happy reunion as our club spent a week in Nagasaki last October in the homes of several of our visitors. Originally, their Club planned to spend only four days with us before traveling to San Francisco until we convinced them that there is plenty to see in Western NC. We kept them busy from their arrival until the day they left with many of the typical events and visiting sites our area is famous for: hiking to the waterfalls in the DuPont Forrest, lunch at Sierra Nevada, a greeting from the Hendersonville mayor and a walk through downtown Hendersonville and a tour of downtown Asheville and the River Arts District.

While in Nagasaki, we spent a morning at an elementary school so we decided to return the favor. We arranged for our visitors to observe the fifth grade PE class at Sugarloaf Elementary School demonstrate their square dancing skills. The class was taught by Bill Coulthart, a member of the Southern Lights Square and Round Dance Club, of which Becky and I are members. Our visitors came prepared to share their culture and skills at Sugarloaf as they taught second graders origami. The visit was well-covered by the Hendersonville Times-News with photographs of our visitors and the children in the November 2nd edition.

Halloween is becoming very popular in Japan as we witnessed last October. Carol Mullen, Bill Hogan and Karen McDonald decided that we must have an all-out Halloween party on Oct. 31. Bill and Karen were very gracious in holding a celebration at their home. Their house was stocked with every conceivable Halloween gadget imaginable. Even Bishop, their dog, was dressed up as a ghost- buster. Hosts and Ambassadors were unrecognizable and partied in very creative costumes.

We had two fantastic dinner host parties. Chuck Stevens used his BBQ skills to smoke a 17 pound brisket, pulled pork and baby back ribs, while Bill and Karen provided the other half of the group with a complete Thanksgiving dinner. Our ambassadors were treated to the holiday lights at the Biltmore, providing the opportunity for many of our ambassadors to experience three American holidays in one week. A tour of the French Broad Chocolate Factory, wine tasting and square dancing at the St Paul Mountain Winery concluded the Journey.

Becky and I say thank you to our co-coordinators Jack and Carol Mullen for their hard work in planning and executing the Journey and to dinner and day hosts for making it a success.

–Joe Robustelli, Beck Reid and
Jack and Carol Mullen, Journey Coordinators