Brandi (LaRue) Montano

1987: Grade 7

What have you been doing since leaving HIS?

Upon leaving Japan, I went back to Texas. I graduated high school in 1992 and then Texas A&M University, College Station, TX in 1996 with a B.S. in Biomedical Science. Shortly after, I trained to become a medical laboratory scientist. I also earned a teaching certification in 2001 but returned to the lab after being a stay-at-home mom to our 2 kids until they went to school. 

What are your fondest memories of your time at HIS?

How to choose from all of the wonderful memories?! Moving from the tiny campus to the big new building was definitely exciting. (Although it added to my hour-long taxi commute! I lived in Kure.) I enjoyed participating in Undoukai with other Japanese schools, visiting Miyajima island and Hiroshima Peace Park. We went camping at Mominoki Forest Park. We played capture the flag in the hills, experienced my first communal Japanese bath. I remember having a slumber party/sleepover at the new building and listening to The Police in the music room. I remember Mr. Miller’s class would sell “pizza” for lunch one day a week…a thick slice of bread, sauce, cheese, green onion, warmed in a toaster. I think the price was 100 yen. Dr. Enloe taught a cooking class. I remember the rice noodles curling up when put in hot oil. We did aerobics in the gym to the Top Gun soundtrack. My teachers were Mr. Mudge for language arts and Mr. John Rayleign (sp?) for science and self-paced math. (new concept for me for sure!) We folded hundreds of origami cranes to glue into a little information/instruction book that we sent to schools in the United States so they could join the 1000 Paper Crane Club. The story of Sadako really stuck with me. I was 12, the same age as Sadako, when I first heard the story. Visiting her memorial was special. I still have a journal that Mr. Mudge assigned to us. I’ll have to dig it out and revisit my time at HIS! (I also wish I could contact Mr. Mudge and thank him!) I also enjoyed Japanese language and culture classes. We carved wood plaques to make wood prints. Mr. Miller taught us how to make washi. He also rounded up some old hibachi boxes that we sanded and refinished. The memories just keep coming…

What impact has your time at HIS had on your life?

There’s not enough room to describe the impact on my life! The whole Japanese experience definitely left a mark on my soul. It sounds cliche but that time changed the trajectory of my life. It gave me a whole new understanding about the world and people in general. Once I returned to my little world in Texas, I never felt that I belong in the same way I had before. I didn’t really understand the significance until I was much older. 

Any other comments that you would like to share?

My father lived in Japan for 17 years…5 in Hiroshima and 12 in Sasebo, Japan. I actually met my husband in Japan years later in 1992 in Sasebo. He was stationed there in the Navy. Needless to say, Japan has a special place in my heart!