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Annual cultural exchange broadens students’ view of the world

Over the past 16 years, the Seven Hills School has partnered with students and teachers from Kita-City, a ward within Tokyo, Japan, to take part in a cross-cultural exchange that has enriched the lives of students and educators from both countries.

During a very special week each November, our entire school community excitedly welcomes a group of Japanese exchange students and five Japanese educators. The students stay with Seven Hills 8th grade host families. During their stay, our Japanese visitors attend classes at Seven Hills and at a local high school, they share many interesting games and cultural activities with our Lower School students, and they take part in all parts of life on our campus. They also tour points of interest in San Francisco, including the Japanese Consulate, and visit the mayor of our city.

In June, many of our Seven Hills 8th graders continue this cultural journey by traveling to Japan. Their tour begins in Kyoto with a visit to historical shrines and temples and continues with a bullet train ride to Tokyo where they begin home stays with their Japanese host families. While in Japan, the Seven Hills students explore historical and contemporary Tokyo, experience everyday life with their Japanese peers, take part in an overnight trip to a small coastal town with their new friends, visit different Japanese elementary and junior high schools, and meet the mayor of Kita-City.

Beyond building lasting friendships with individuals across the world, this program allows students to learn about the roles of California and Japan in the Pacific Rim conglomeration of businesses, to find out more about intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and hear about varying educational opportunities in each country. Over and over, our students have returned home with renewed appreciation for their own families and communities, a deeper understanding of other cultures, and a greater awareness of global citizenship.

Does your school do something similar?

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