East meets west; seven Fuchu High students visit MHS

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By Matthew Feria
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(Photo courtesy of Ivy Ogawa) Coming from Hiroshima, Japan, seven students from Fuchu High School arrived in Hawaii to tour MHS with their guides, living the life of a Mililani student and learning about the people, culture and lifestyle of Hawaii.

Visiting from Japan, seven exchange students came to MHS  from Fuchu High School in Hiroshima from March 8 to April 9 to experience high school life in Hawaii, learning about new culture and meeting new people. Following their guides through the school and staying at their houses in the evenings, the students were shown what life is like as a Trojan.

It’s very enjoyable, it’s (very) different, including the culture difference and the ethnicities, and I have learned a lot from this two week stay,” said Fuchu Sophomore Keitaro Kohara.

When the students arrived, they were each assigned a guide from students in MHS’ Japanese classes, who would both host the students and guide them through their day-to-day classes. “We did a group field trip with all host and exchange students to Kualoa Ranch and went on a horseback tour. Other places they’ve been include: Waikiki, (a) Makapuu hike (and) various beaches,” said Educational Assistant Ivy Ogawa, who coordinated the exchange.

While the event had no direct leadership since it was a collaboration between the sister schools, it depended on two key individuals who directed homestays for the students. “Ogawa was the person coordinating the homestay families here, and coordinating also with (Educational Assistant Hazel) Guerrero,” said Japanese teacher Corey Zukeran.

The short-term exchange program’s homestay component was meant to simulate an American household as much as possible to further the goal of learning about new cultures and practicing English. “All of our exchange students stay with host families. The hosts are our own MHS students and their families. This exchange focuses on the cultural aspects of our two countries and what everyday life is like for a teenager in America or Japan. Therefore, we try our best to place our guests with a student so that they can experience their life first-hand,” said Ogawa. Kohara added, “(I came here to) improve my English, and to learn about the culture of our sister school.”

The program has been a rewarding experience for both host and student, as the MHS and Fuchu students got a chance to practice a foreign language while having fun at the same time. “I think both the host and exchange students really enjoy this experience. The exchange students have a chance to practice their English and experience new things. Both sides get to meet new people and make new friends. They also get to learn about each other’s culture. Some of our host students are originally from Japan, so this program also gives them a chance to connect with their homes,” said Ogawa. Kohara added, “I already made some friends here, so I want to come back, and I learned a lot here, including the different type of education.”

The transfer program also sends MHS students to Japan every other year; this year is Japan students, but next year will see Trojans visiting Fuchu. “We welcome exchange students from Fuchu High School every year around this time. Since there is a Japan trip this year, we will not be sending any students to stay at Fuchu for the two-week exchange. However, we will be sending students next school year,” said Ogawa.

The transfer program between the sister schools will continue for the foreseeable future with a fresh batch of students willing to experience a new culture. Just as the Fuchu students have been amazed by Hawaiian culture this year, MHS hopes Trojans  who visit Fuchu next year will have a learning experience that is just as enjoyable.