Last week, from March 11–15, 19 students and two teachers from Minami High School in Toyama, Japan, attended San Dieguito Academy High School in Encinitas. The students attended Japanese and English classes every day and participated in cooking, screen-printing, and weight-training classes.
At the request of Minami High School, the cultural exchange was organized by Kodia Sato, director of the Human International Academy in Fashion Valley, a private school that specializes in teaching the English language and American culture to foreigners. Sato contacted his friend, San Dieguito Academy Japanese teacher Rie Tsuboi, to find local families to host the visitors.
Leaders of academy’s Japanese club, juniors Zach and Jesus, organized the after-school activities for the visitors, which included a visit to Seaport Village, a karaoke night, and a sunset beach party.
Minami student Kei was asked by her host family what she wanted to take home as a souvenir. She chose a crocheted string bikini from Hanson’s Surf Shop. She also cherished a skateboard that was given to her.
In front of the school on March 15, while waiting to board their bus to LAX, even with the language barrier, the Minami students were “friending” their new American friends on Facebook. The students shared hugs and tears.
Minami student Tsubasa, crying as she boarded the bus, said through a translator that she was “honored to be here.”
The Minami High School students and parents raised funds for travel to the U.S. The 12-day trip also included a stop in San Francisco, Universal Studios, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Their school’s delegates were chosen based on their declared major in English studies. In 2014, San Dieguito Academy plans on sending a delegation of students to Minami High School.