For weeks Nikhil Dharmaraj had been envisioning what it would be like to finally meet his overseas buddy, Momotaro Nakamoto. On Oct. 16 that vision became a reality when he, along with other excited grade 6 students, met their Tamagawa buddies from Harker’s sister school in Tokyo, in person, for the very first time.
The much anticipated live meeting between Harker’s 27 middle school students and the Tamagawa K-12 School & University students came on the heels of a previously held video chat. The Tamagawa students were accompanied by three chaperones, and, in the spring, Harker students will head to Japan as part of the reciprocal exchange program.
Dharmaraj has had prior experience serving as a buddy for Harker newcomers, but said this is the first time he has been a buddy to a visiting foreign student. “It’s been a really great opportunity!” he enthused.
The Tamagawa students were at Harker for several days before heading off to Yosemite on Oct. 22 after a farewell party hosted on their behalf in the middle school’s multipurpose room. They stayed in homestays with their Harker buddies, sightseeing around the Bay Area, visiting special classes, observing middle school classes, and reading stories and doing origami projects with K-3 kids.
While participating in a special dance class held in the gym, the students said they were having fun getting to know one another and were still excited about an outing they had the day before, which included a visit to a pumpkin patch and haunted house.
During the dance class, instructor Gail Palmer reminded the Harker students what a great opportunity it is to work with a student from another country before asking them to give the Tamagawa student standing next to them “a big high five!” The Harker students, wearing green shorts and school T-shirts, gladly obliged, high-fiving their Tamagawa buddies who were dressed in sharp looking school uniforms.
“It’s that Tamagawa time of year again!” enthused Jennifer Walrod, director of Harker’s global education progam.
Tamagawa was founded in 1929 as an elementary education organization. Later secondary education divisions were added, and in 1947 Tamagawa University received approval for establishment as an “old system” (pre-war) university. As a comprehensive institution (gakuen), they currently provide education from kindergarten to graduate school within a single campus.
The popular student exchange program between the Tamagawa and Harker schools is just one example of Harker’s rich global education program, which strives to weave global activities into its students’ daily lives.