Sophomore Meghan Beckmann travels with Kiwanis International Japan Exchange Program


Carly Anderson

Meghan Beckmann is working on an Sahara-themed art project in Ceramics.

After her first year in Key Club (formerly COW), sophomore Meghan Beckmann is taking advantage of its opportunities and is on her way to Japan this June.

“I just became involved in Key Club,” Beckmann said. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved because it’s easy hours and all of my friends are in it.”

This will be Beckmann’s first trip out of United States, allowing her to do what she loves the most: travel.

“The only reason I have my job right now is so I can save money and travel after college,” Beckmann said. “And my family would have no idea where to start in Japan, so they were really open to me wanting to broaden my horizons and take this opportunity.”

Even though this trip has been advertised in Key Club meetings, Beckmann is the only student from West who applied for the scholarship to attend this program.

“My family and I decided to do the scholarship application just to see if we could get anything out of it and I had to write a letter to the host family about why I should be chosen and provide teacher recommendations,” Beckmann said. “I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in Missouri who applied though because that’s what all of my local scholarship people told me.”

While Beckmann is more than ready to embark on this trip, she is also facing a bit of nervousness, as she will have only met her host family through video chat before her arrival.

“It just kind of scares me a little to not be comfortable with other people, but I don’t think it will be a huge problem because I obviously signed up knowing that that was going to happen,” Beckmann said. “But I’m still a little nervous knowing that I might not make friends!”

I’m hoping this will teach my family and me about how it’s okay to get out of your comfort zone and do something totally different.”

— Meghan Beckmann

Despite her nerves, Beckmann is also looking forward to everything she will be doing during her trip as well.

“We’re going to Kyoto, the old Japanese capital, and then we’re going to Tokyo, which is the new one,” Beckmann said. “I was mainly interested because it’s mostly cultural but we’ll be doing some volunteer things there too.”

Beckmann will be in Japan for two weeks, and for seven days she will be staying with a host family to adapt to and experience their everyday life first hand, only meeting them through a video chat before she arrives.

“I’m really looking forward to staying with the [host] family because I love learning about other cultures. I’m really hoping they can show me aspects of their life that are similar to ours but different in a lot of ways too,” Beckmann said.

In addition to the opportunity to travel, Beckmann hopes that she and her family will also learn a lot from this experience.

“I’m hoping this will teach my family and me about how it’s okay to get out of your comfort zone and do something totally different,” Beckmann said. “I’m excited to see how cultures can be so different yet so similar and how we shouldn’t be afraid of other people from different cultures.”