In Alaska, The Dutch Harbor Fisherman reports that at age 15, Girl Scout Connor Ito has been planning this summer for years now. In July, Ito is joining six other young women on a trip to Japan through the Alaska Girl Scouts. The journey is the second part of an exchange arranged with a group of Japanese Girl Scouts who came to Alaska last summer.
Ito, a Dillingham resident, is the only traveler not from the Anchorage area. She's been getting to know her fellow travelers through video conferencing, allowing her to be a part of the group and the preparation even though she's relatively far away.
In just a few months, she'll join the other girls and two chaperons in Anchorage, then travel to Tokyo. The educational and cultural events planned for the trip center around the city, but Ito said they'll be getting out to the country as well. She's particularly excited about the group's journey to climb Mount Fuji — an idea that came from Ito herself.
"I've been taking Japanese language since last year," Ito said, and she hopes to be fluent in the language one day. Ito's interest in Japan goes beyond just this trip.
"It's part of my heritage," Ito said. "I'm half Japanese on my dad's side, and I've always been fascinated by Japan. Partially from stories I've read and stories I heard from my grandparents."
Above all, the trip will certainly be one of a lifetime, Nicole said, and hopefully the doorway to a lifetime of learning.
"I wanted to reinforce her love of wanting to try new things and meet new people," Nicole said. "I think it will open her eyes to how big the world is, and how many things there are for us to explore and be curious about. I'm hoping she will be able to connect with some of these girls and make some lifelong friendships."