Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Visit from Princeton High School

This past week my school has been host to 23 Ameican high school students plus three of their teachers. They come from Princeton High School in Princeton, New Jersey. Though this week has been about fun and discovery for the students, I found myself also able to enjoy their visit from a unique perspective.

The first day that they were with us I invited myself along on an impromptu downtown excursion of about 13 of them and their Japanese hosts. They are responsible teenagers so they didn't need adult supervision, but my presence seemed to act as a buffer between cultures. Getting to share my love and knowledge of Japan with these newcomers helped deepen my own understanding and gave me a greater appreciation. I have often thought that I would enjoy working in a job that allows me to take young people on trips. This gave me a small taste of that and I felt so fulfilled doing it! It was nice to be there as a mentor and resource, not someone to micromanage these already independent individuals.

On their first full day of classes together, the American students were assigned a 10th grade Japanese host, who they would be following throughout the day to various classes. Some went to history class, gym class, or math, perhaps some of which were difficult to follow. Some students got a more hands-on experience by going to Japanese calligraphy class or cooking class. As I had no classes of my own that day I again interjected myself into the mix and poked my head around both of those classes. Not only did I enjoy watching how to make a simple Japanese dish, I enjoyed interacting with my own students in a new way. I hadn't gotten the opportunity to witness any other classes other than English in my experience here, so this was a rare treat. I think my own students were excited to have me around in a different context. It gave them a rare opportunity to use their English in a real setting.

On the morning that they left, their student hosts had a small send off gathering for them. I watched happily as I saw each American student pair off with their Japanese counterpart to embrace and talk with them one final time. It was nice to be exposed to come of my own countrymen for a short time, but their visit also inspired a whole new wave of experiences for my here in Japan. I also got to experience new things and gain a deeper closeness with my own students. I have to say this has been the best week I've had in Japan. I was so happy that everyone involved got to have this valuable experience.