Student Spotlight on Duke Takeno: Greenheart Travel’s Correspondent in Japan

Student Spotlight on Duke Takeno: Greenheart Travel’s Correspondent in Japan

Greenheart Travel is excited to send a group of amazing high school students to language camps overseas as part of our 2016 Travel Correspondent Scholarship awards. To help introduce our inspiring writers, we will be doing a series of spotlight interviews to help you get to know a little more about who they are, where they will be headed and what inspired them to learn a new language abroad.

Read on to meet our first student spotlight on 16-year-old, Dakota “Duke” Takeno, our Greenheart Travel Correspondent from Oahu, Hawaii who’ll be traveling to Fukuoka for his summer language camp in Japan!


Favorite thing to do in your free time?

In my free time I like to listen to music, write stories, read books, hang out with my friends, play video games and sleep. I’m what you might call a “night owl;” I love to stay up late at night but I have a hard time waking up in the morning.

Have you traveled abroad before?

Yes, I have traveled abroad before with the People to People Ambassador program where I went to Australia. I have also gone to Canada, Mexico, Japan, Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, New York, and the neighbor islands of Hawaii with my family.

Many of these places, I went to when I was really young so I don’t really remember a lot about them. If I had to pick my favorite place that I have visited, I would have to say it would be Australia. The country was really beautiful and it was the first time I travelled without my family to a foreign country. I felt very independent and free!

duke-koala copy

Four years ago, I went to Australia with the People to People Ambassador Program.

What got you interested in learning Japanese and traveling to Japan?

What first got me interested in learning Japanese and traveling to Japan was my friend named Koshin who introduced me to anime. After watching anime and listening to Japanese songs, I started to get interested in the Japanese culture, language, and it’s history. This year I chose Japanese for my language class and I really enjoyed it! After only one year of taking Japanese, I realize I have so much more to learn and I’ve heard that the best way to learn a new language is to go to there.

What are you most excited about experiencing during your language camp?

I am very excited to meet my host family and the other students who are going to be at the language camp. I’m excited to communicate with the local people there as well as learn more on how to speak, read and write Japanese. I want to experience the culture and learn firsthand about my ancestry.

Why do you feel it’s important to travel to a new place and learn a new language?

I feel that it’s important to travel to a new place and learn a new language because it really widens your perspective of the world. A lot of people want to explore space or the bottom of the ocean. However, I really want to explore new places and learn about their unique and different culture as well as their language and to be able to share my experience with my family and friends.

I also feel that there is only so much you can learn from books and videos. To really appreciate something, I really feel you need to experience it first hand. I believe that all five senses need to be activated to truly experience a new culture.


Duke interview feature

Duke at Disneyland in front of the Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel.

What are you nervous about during your language program?

I am nervous about not being able to find my way around Japan. I’m not very skilled in finding the places I need to go to (even at home), but hopefully google maps will save me! Another thing that I’m nervous about is not being able to connect with my host family and my classmates because when we arrive and see each other, we will be complete strangers.

How well do you speak Japanese at this point?

I have learned basic sentence structures, all hiragana characters and commonly used phrases.

How do you think you will change the most during your time abroad?

I think my love for Japan will increase during my time abroad because I’ve always wanted to go to Japan by myself. I’m excited to learn about my ethnic culture and language through the eyes of a student. By staying in Japan with the Greenheart Travel Program I believe that I’ll truly enjoy myself there and will want to come back soon!




duke-bio-blog-imageDuke Takeno is 16 years old and lives in Oahu, Hawaii. His goal during his language program in Fukuoka, Japan is to “learn the language, connect with the other students in the program as well as my host family, and to enjoy what Japan has to offer.  I can’t wait to begin my adventure!” Follow Duke’s adventures in Japan on his weekly blog post updates.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *