The Makinohara Intercultural Exchange
Over the last few months, students from HIS have worked on a collaborative project with students from Sagara High School in Shizuoka. The objective was to expand the worldview of the students in Shizuoka and promote the city of Makinohara internationally by creating a brochure which promotes both Makinohara and HIS. Students were able to host their own meetings through Zoom, where they got to know each other and were able to plan their sections of the main project – the brochure. Through biweekly meetings, students were able to obtain a greater understanding of the differences between international and Japanese cultures, which made for interesting discussions and fun icebreaker questions in between the decision-making and sharing of information parts of the meetings.
First meeting with Sagara High School through Zoom
Sarah and Audrey meeting their team for the first time
In the interest of bringing HIS and Sagara High School together even more, three students and one teacher from HIS were invited to Makinohara for the weekend, a trip sponsored by the city itself, in order to meet the people that they have been working with online, as well as see the town that they are striving to promote to the rest of the world.
Mr. Pangier, Sasha, Sari, and PK in front of the Shizunoma Surf Stadium, the first wave pool in Japan
Representatives from HIS received a warm welcome from all of the staff that made their trip to Makinohara possible; they were treated to private dinners, drivers, tours, and amazing scenery.
Perhaps one of the most honorable events of the entire trip was the lunch that students from both HIS and Sagara High School shared with the Mayor of Makinohara, who expressed his gratitude for the effort being made by the two schools, even posting about it on his Facebook page here: https://rb.gy/xx53xu. The lunch was held at the local Cafe Tsunagu, known for its employment of those with intellectual disabilities, where the students enjoyed specially prepared bentos. This was an enjoyable experience for HIS students, which resulted in their later discussion of the possibility of finding a similar establishment in Sapporo that they could visit in the near future.
HIS and SHS students pictured together with the Mayor of Makinohara and the employees of Cafe Tsunagu
The Mayor of Makinohara’s Toast
The Mayor Inducting us into the Global Challenge Circle
In the end, this trip allowed students from both schools to form friendships with each other, all while enjoying the scenic views of Makinohara, which included Shizunami beach, local green tea farms, Shizunami Surf Stadium, and other local businesses in the city, as well as the many laughs shared by the students throughout their day together, all of which added to the unique setting of the city of Makinohara.
With the ongoing success of this cultural exchange program, Sagara High School, HIS, and the city of Makinohara hope to continue this relationship between Hokkaido and Shizuoka through the coming years.
HIS and SHS students in front of Sagara High School, expressing our deepening connection
The in-person interaction between members of HIS and Sagara High School was impactful to students from both schools as they were able to attain a more realistic idea of each others’ lives, and hopefully the friendships that they made during the short period of time that they spent together in Makinohara will serve them for a lifetime.
Eating Genghis Khan: Sagara’s Principal Asakura & Advisor Mr. Sugiyama, HIS Advisor Mr. Pangier, & Program Coordinator M. Hasegawa
To continue this experience in the future, the principal of Sagara High School along with two teachers visited HIS on June 13th to make plans for Sagara High School students to visit HIS and Hokkaido in the fall of 2022 with another HIS trip to Makinohara tentatively scheduled for 2023.
School Agreements for Further Exchange
Certificate of Appreciation given to Julie, Audrey, Sasha, Pu Kuan, Sari, and Sarah (last three not present)
This intercultural experience between HIS and Sagara High School has been highly valued by students, teachers, and the administration of both schools. The significance of this relationship has proven to serve not only students in Shizuoka, but HIS students as well, who got to learn more about Japanese culture and the lives of Japanese high school students. In the time that Sagara High School students learned about western cultures and norms, our representatives from HIS got the pleasure of communicating with people their own age and learning about a part of Japanese history and culture. It is with great enthusiasm that HIS and Sagara High School aim to continue this intercultural exchange and keep aiding students in learning more about each other.
Highlights of the HIS — SHS Intercultural Exchange can be seen in the following video: https://youtu.be/MkI57paOVNE
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