CROWN POINT Sarah Paparella enjoyed her visit to Japan so much, she has a new look.
The teen left Crown Point July 20 a blonde. She now has a dark haircut in a popular Japanese style.
I thought we would go places, see things, take some pictures and have some fun, she said. It was so much more. It was great. I feel it changed me.
Paparella, who will be a junior at Crown Point Central School this fall, made the trip as part of the People-to-People Student Ambassador Program. She was in Japan July 21 to Aug. 4, visiting most of the countrys major cities and attractions. While there, she stayed with a host family in Yamanashi.
It was a real culture shock and not just the language, Paparella said. In public the Japanese are very Western with very individual dress. Yet at home they are veery traditional. They take their shoes off at the door, sit on the floor, drink tea; things like that.
Everyone is very polite and very nice, she added. My host family was wonderful. They didnt speak English very well and I dont speak Japanese, but we managed.
Paparella, daughter of John and Roseanne Simanavage, was scheduled to visit Europe as part of the People-to-People Student Ambassador Program last summer, but her father became ill and she was forced to miss the trip. Her father is now better.
It was worth the wait, Paparella said. It was really cool.
Paparella is interested in art and music, both major aspects of Japanese culture. As a gift, she drew a portrait of her host family.
Thats the best response I ever got to a gift, she said. They loved it.
The host family gave her a yukata, a traditional Japanese robe worn for special occasions.
One of the most moving stops on the trip was in Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb to end World War II in 1945.