Sayaka Takahashi came to Canada to improve her English, but the 23 year old native of Bifuka, Japan – Ashcroft’s sister city – learned much more about Canadians during her two and a half month stay.
Takahashi said her goodbyes last week to her new families and friends before travelling to San Francisco to visit family friends, but she will return for a short visit in April.
Ashcroft artist Jo Petty helped to arrange her stay here. Petty says she met Takahashi’s grandmother, Misako Noraki, “in Bifuka probably the first time I went there” in 1997.
When Takahashi decided that she wanted to visit Canada, Noraki asked her old friend to help arrange it.
“I put on Facebook I was looking for home stays for her,” said Petty. “It took a little while, but I managed to get about six different homestay families. Each home had a unique experience for her.”
“Little windows and doors would open up for her,” Petty said. “She got to do so many cool things,” like go backstage with Anne McKague during My Fair Lady to help out with hair, makeup and other things; no surprise that she did a lot of physical activities while staying with the Trills and wants to see and work in Banff; and the Howards took her to Vancouver to see the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
“The little kids loved her,” said Petty. “She has a special spark or something. As soon as you meet her you instantly like her.”
Takahashi stayed with the Pettys for a few days and she and Jo “played in the studio. She was incredibly creative,” Petty said. “She’s an expressionist right now, exploring everything.”
Takahashi took a year’s leave from her job, dealing with the public in one of Japan’s large airports. This was only her first stop.
Petty said last week she left for San Francisco where she will be working in a Japanese bakery owned by family friends for three weeks. All of her homestay families and friends gathered at the Dairy Queen in Cache Creek to say goodbye.
“She was absolutely delightful,” said Petty. “We all had a hard time saying goodbye to her. She’s missed already.”
Takahashi will be back in April for two weeks and will no doubt bring her new extended family members up to speed on all of her adventures in Canada since leaving them in December.