Japanese sister school returns

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Shimoda students mingle with Harrisites. Photo </a><figcaption id=Shimoda students mingle with Harrisites. Photo by Jamie Abbario.

Before the spring break, Townsend Harris once again played host to a group of students from its sister school, Shimoda High School, who travelled from Japan to experience life in the United States.

After receiving their schedules and readying themselves for the day, the students were ushered into the principal’s conference room, where they were welcomed by the students and faculty.

Last year, when students came from Shimoda, they presented us with the Daruma, a hollow, round, traditional Japanese doll representing friendship and good luck. They drew the first eye that year, leaving the other one blank as a promise that they would one day return to fill in the other, showing that the friendship between our two schools is still alive. This year, the other eye was drawn on the doll, fulfilling that promise.

Seniors Jenny Xue and Ashley Chu gave a welcoming speech, saying, “The news of Shimoda High School coming again brought about greater anticipation.”

Students from Shimoda responded, “We are very glad to see you and we can’t speak English very well, but we hope we’ll have a great time with you so thank you very much.”

Principal Barbetta welcomed them as well, saying “Our school is your school.”

Accompanied by two teachers from their school, the Shimoda students spent two days experiencing the life of students in Townsend Harris. They spent a good portion of their time within the school visiting classrooms, observing the different styles of teaching and the behavior of the students.

Honami Sato said, “It’s different. I like it here. They use computers here, so that’s different.”

Shimoda teacher Shinya Suzuki said, “It’s very amazing, very good. In the classes, students raise their hands, volunteer – very amazing. They talk with their teachers and friends. That doesn’t happen in Japan usually.”

Shimoda students also visited Mariko Sato’s Japanese classes, where they viewed presentations about the Fukushima power plant and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Dr. Sato said, “I thought they would be important because they don’t have a presentation oriented education system.”

After their visits to classrooms on Friday, March 22nd, the Shimoda students, accompanied by THHS students from Japanese classes gathered in the library to enjoy food and to get to know each other better.

“Just being able to interact with them was an amazing experience. The language barrier didn’t separate us,” said senior Kapil Kanhai.

Senior Jaime Abbariao added, “My favorite part was being able to speak in Japanese, the practical use of the language. Since I’ve been studying for the AP exam, I got to use things I learned in the class.”

There was an exchange of gifts between the two schools, a rush of final picture taking, and many hugs exchanged between new friends as the students departed on Friday afternoon.