March 4, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica & Kizugawa Exchange Students: Back to school

Twelve middle school students from Kizugawa, Japan visited Santa Monica as part of the ambitious on-going exchange program between the Science Magnet of John Adams Middle School and Kizugawa City.

This was the ninth time that Santa Monica hosted students from Japan. Their visit included a tour of Santa Monica’s City Hall, a chance to meet Mayor Pro Tem Richard Bloom and other City representatives, a visit to Summer Science Institute at John Adams Middle School, and a home stay with families from the middle school. They also visited several museums in Los Angeles and spent a night in San Diego.

In July, for only the second time since the program began, eight John Adams students visited Kizugawa City. They stayed in a traditional Japanese style hotel, visited a middle school, and attended a religious festival. The American exchange students also visited several temples and museums.

John Adams Administrative Assistant Marty Mirabel explained that the reason students from her school haven’t gone to Japan every year is financial, so the program hopes they can find some sponsors.

One of the Japanese students’ chaperones, English teacher Mami Nose, told the Mirror she was very “surprised to find so many people in Santa Monica who like Japan and speak Japanese.” She believes the program can influence its student participants by motivating them to learn English. Lastly, she mentioned that the program offers the participants “a way to understand each other.”

The Mirror also spoke to Bin Okada, who was responsible for starting the program in Japan. He began the exchange because there is so much more globalization in the world today than in the past. Okada also mentioned that the Japanese students are benefiting from “getting in touch with American culture because they can see the differences and similarities between both cultures.” He hopes the experience will make it easy for the Japanese students to someday be able to live in Santa Monica or elsewhere in the United States.

Japanese exchange student Yuka Ikinuki told the Mirror the most important thing she learned from her trip is that communication is key to getting to know about one another’s culture and lifestyle. The thing she liked most about Santa Monica was “being by the ocean.”

Another Japanese student, Naoya Wakasa, stated that he “learned a lot about American culture” and was surprised to learn Americans don’t eat as much rice as the Japanese and that Americans drink so much juice.

After the weekend homestay, the Japanese attended a farewell “Thanksgiving Dinner” at John Adams Middle School. The program coordinators explained that they chose a Thanksgiving feast because they wanted to serve food that was uniquely American.

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