By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 21, 2014) — According to Parichart.Wallen, “This past summer 23 from Southwest high school had the opportunity to visit Japan according to, this wonderful opportunity to go to Japan was sponsored by the Kakesashi Project” from the Japanese Foundation; The Bridge for Tomorrow” as part of the Youth Exchange Program with North America promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA).
As of 2013, the Kakehashi Project has given and will give total of 4,600 Japanese and the US students and young people the opportunity to go to the United States and come to visit Japan.” 23 students were from Southwest High School in Minneapolis.
Wallen noted, Each child was able to spend time with a Japanese student and learned about the culture that Japan offered throughout its various regions.
The next project’s next phase involved Japanese students visiting the United States and some making their way to Minnesota below is an interview with Kyoko French, Japanese Teacher at Southwest High School who chronicled the experience between the students
An interview with Kyoko French, Teacher at Southwest High School
How long have you had a relationship the high school in japan?
“There are 23 students and two teachers including me that went to Japan on July 8, 2013 and came back on July 18th. We visited Izumi HIgh School on July 12th in Osaka. Students spent two nights and three days with host families of Izumi High School students. We have known them for six months. Izumi High School came to Southwest on January 20th and spent time with my students until January 23rd.”
Are there other interactions you have with the high school?
Ms. French journaled some of the highlights the exchange between Southwest High school students and those from Izumi High School
January 20 (Monday) :
• Guests arrived at about 3:30pm at the airport and met host families. After that Izumi High School students and Southwest students went to the Mall of America together. They did shopping before they went home with host students.
January 21 (Tuesday):
• Guests shadowed their host students at school.
• 6:30pm Japan Night
• Guests and students who went to Japan last July participated in Japan Night until 8:30pm. About 200 people were in attendance in the Southwest HS Auditorium.
January 22 (Wednesday):
• Guests did a presentation four times during the day on Japanese Culture for Southwest students. 500 Southwest students watched their presentation.
• After school, guests joined the Japanese Culture club and did some games together. Enjoyed a potluck party at 6:00pm in the Cafeteria.
Do students from your school plan to visit Japan?
Every year, students from the Southwest Japanese Program go to Southwest’s sister school, Kasugaoka High School for two weeks in June (that is a different school – not Izumi).
Please tell me the details of your relationship with the school?
We did an exchange visit between Southwest and Izumi High School. There were 23 students and two teachers including me from Southwest High School went to Japan on July 8, 2013 and came back on July 18. We visited Izumi High School on July 12th. Students spent two nights and three days with host families of Izumi High School students. We have known them for six months. Izumi High School came to Southwest on January 20th and spent with my students until January 23rd. Southwest was able to do this as members of the Kakehashi Exchange Program, which is funded and administered by the government of Japan. We were so fortunate to receive 25 fully paid trips for our group, including transportation, food, lodging, and tour services.
What have been some of the highlights or notable events that have occurred?
Japan NIght was great. We got a larger audience than we expected. More than 500 Southwest students watched the Izumi High School’s presentation. Two thirds of the guests present from Japan were host students when Southwest students went to Japan. They enjoyed this reunion six month later.
Are there any unique special stories to tell among any of the students?
There are too many precious memories to recount. Each student had a unique experience with their host family and while visiting the high school. As each of our students is very different, each came away from the trip with valuable life’s lessons, and for sure with a certain measure of maturity and a broader global view of life.