One tiny experience in your life may floor you and open the door to an entirely new world. Though rare, it sometimes happens when one stumbles upon a totally different culture.

This is what Lin Kobayashi, 40, experienced when she was in high school in Canada, motivating her to establish the International School of Asia, Karuizawa, the first all-English international boarding school in Japan, last Aug. 24.

"It was a shocking experience," said Kobayashi, one of the founders of ISAK, referring to her summer trip to Mexico with a friend from the Canadian school.