Alumni Spotlight: Paul George Newman


Paul was born and raised in Colorado, in the small town of Northglenn. He's had a fascination with Japan and its culture since he was a child, and traveling with World Campus was a perfect opportunity for him to do so.

Why did you choose this program?

I heard about World Campus through a friend of mine. He's a lighting expert who worked on a few of the theatrical shows at my high school.

I happened to be helping him out one night when I let slip that I've always wanted to go to Japan. He told me about a program he had been a part of for a few years, and that program was World Campus.

He had worked with the creator of the program, Hiro, in another program called Up With People, and the way he described the program and talked about how much he trusted and respected Hiro gave me full confidence that World Campus would be the best way for me to experience Japan first hand.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The total cost of the program covered housing, activities, food, and transportation between cities during the sessions. The total cost didn't cover extra expenses (souvenirs, medicine, food outside our activities/outside what our host families make, etc.), transportation to and from Japan, and travel in between sessions

So, if someone were participating in two sessions, transportation would be provided for between cities in each session, but it's not provided for them getting from the endpoint of session 1 to the meeting place of session 2 (although, all of the staff members were very active and willing to help anyone set up proper transportation and potentially traveling with them).

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I'd defiantly say to polish up on some of your Japanese, especially basic phrases and statements (Thank You, Excuse Me, Please, Thank You, etc). I'd also say to look into some of the customs of the country. I learned by accident that rolling bamboo chopsticks between your hands after breaking them apart is considered exceptionally rude. Be sure to look into electronic connections as well; Japan uses the same kind of outlets and wattage, but they don't have grounding sockets that are in America outlets, so I had to get a special adapter for my computer charger that made it fit in a two-prong outlet.

Also, plan for anything and everything. Too muchh supplies are far better than too few. I brought home souvenirs for my family and friends, and I really wished I had packed a foldable duffel bag so that I didn't have to buy one in order to fit all the things I wound up coming home with. Some of the things you think might be too mundane might come in handy (I connected with some of my younger host siblings by letting them play the Nintendo Switch I brought), and there might be things you'll need that you might under pack for.

Lastly, I'd say to go with the flow on everything. Try everything that's offered to you, volunteer for every opportunity, take every risk or challenge presented before you with full grit and vigor. By the end of your trip, you'll return home with a thousand different stories, and the ability to say you faced Japan head-on and had the time of your life.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You'll wake up generally early, especially on a day where the group is doing activities, as all meet up between 8 and 9 on most days. So take into account breakfast with your host family, and cleansing yourself.

After everyone meets up, we get debriefed by the councilors on the day's activities (rehearsing for the Arigato Event, visiting a museum, going to a cultural fair, etc). We also have lunch at some point during these days.

After the day's events, we are picked up by our host families (or we make our way home if we are asked to take public transport), wherein the rest of the evening and dinner is spent with them.

A week typically follows the schedule of...
- At the beginning of the week, we meet our host families.
- A few days of activities.
- A Host Family day where you spend the day with your host family.
- On some weeks, a free day where you can do what you want (within reason, and within the wishes/abilities of your host family).
- Close to the end of the week, the Arigato Event.
- The day we leave and say goodbye to our host families (or each other if it's the end of a session).

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was honestly meeting and staying with the host families.

For me, there was a basic, underlying fear about needing to impress or not wanting to impose in a stranger's house. This fear waned fast though. By the end of my adventures, my host families became the best part of my trip.

They volunteer to host you because they want to get to know you, integrate you into their family. And even with the families I stayed with had volunteered for World Campus before and hosted participants before (about half of mine), I found they were just as scared as I was, and typically for the same reasons.

I couldn't have asked for better host families, and I will never forget the time I spent with them.

What are some experiences that where different than what you anticipated?

I'll do an experience for each week I was there.

1 - I didn't expect the Nagasaki Peace Museum to be as moving to me as it was. I'll admit, I cried at one point during the tour (and even harder when we met a survivor of the atomic bombing).

2 - I had an absolute blast meeting and working with a Katana smith. I knew this activity would be fun, but I didn't expect it to be as exciting as it was.

3 - For week three, I got to experience a type of remembrance ceremony with my host family, and it was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. It was also very nice to meet and have lunch with the extended members of my host mom's family.

4 - I used (and got lost on multiple times) public transportation in Japan on my own this week. I'd defiantly say it was one of the strongest learning experiences I had whilst in Japan.

5 - I knew the Ninja Village would be gimmicky fun but I was surprised at just how much fun it was in a group setting. Between the rope climbing, river crossing, and VR ninja challenge, I found grew closer with my group more than anything.

6 - When we visited the university in this city, It was a much more inclusive and interactive process then what we've had thus far in school visits. I walked away feeling like a student in a way, and it was crazy fun.

7 - We visited the beach and the ocean on our last day of activities for the week, and it was the first time I got to visit the coast my whole trip in Japan. I had an amazing time exploring the beach we were on and catching some small crabs in the low tides.

8 - We went to a festival on after activities one day, and we saw an incredible fireworks display that lasted about an hour and a half, easily twice as long as any display I've seen before.

9 - I went to Hello Kitty land on our free day this week, and believe it or not, it was absolutely incredible. It blew all of my expectations out of the water.