PHOTO: Naoko McHale and her Japanese students pose with their traditional kimonos on the foreign exchange trip to Japan last year.
By Emily Perry,
This summer, nine students from Naoko McHale’s Japanese classes will pack their bags and head to Japan to stay with host families and immerse themselves in Japanese culture and language.
The annual exchange program started in 1997, and McHale and her students are looking forward to another successful trip this year.
Any students who satisfy the language requirement from Japanese 2, 3 or 4 are welcome to participate in the program, which McHale believes “motivates them to learn real communication skills.”
The students will leave after graduation on June 17 and stay with a host family for around ten days in a city in Western Japan.
During their stay, student will attend Kurashiki Washu high school with their exchange partners and attend classes such as traditional art or cooking classes.
McHale’s classes also enjoy “cultural activities like tea ceremonies and flower arranging.”
After the 10 days with their host family comes to an end, the students travel to Hiroshima, where they visit the Hiroshima atomic bomb shrine and leave a thousand carefully folded origami cranes at the memorial.
After Hiroshima, the students visit Kyoto and Tokyo before heading back to Davis on July 3.
Senior Simone Gamble, one of the nine students traveling to Japan this summer, is excited for “traveling to different parts of the country, not just staying in one area” during her time abroad.
During spring break of the following year, the Japanese exchange students will visit Davis High to say with their partners for 10 days and participate in Davis activities.
Students have been preparing for their trip in the last few months. Gamble spends time outside of school studying and improving her Japanese language skills, and the group is also preparing presentations to show their classes in Japan.
The travelers are nervous about meeting new people and staying with a a new family, but are overall excited about the opportunities the trip will bring.
Mchale believes that the trip is a valuable experience for her students, as it helps them “learn not only language skills, but also different cultural ways of thinking.”
A number of the participants from past years have returned to Japan after the high school trip for college study abroad or to work as English teachers.