Over the fall semester, Harker Honors and AP Japanese students participated in a video exchange with their friends at Tamagawa Academy in Tokyo. Each student had two buddies at Tamagawa – one they interacted with in Japanese and another they spoke with in English. In the videos, the students discussed topics such as life at their respective schools, hobbies, college plans and their families.
Emma Yu, grade 11, said she enjoyed the project because it enabled her to get to know her buddies on a more personal level. “It was actually seeing them in a video instead of just writing down letters,” she said, “because you can see their personality and habits, and you can feel a stronger connection to them.”
“I really think that the questions and answers really said a lot about their personalities, interests, etc.,” said sophomore Sumantra Banerjee. “I enjoyed being asked and answering questions the most as that’s how the conversation moves forward.”
Other students said it also provided an opportunity to further build on their Japanese language skills. “I would like to do it again, as conversing with the Tamagawa students proved to be beneficial for my oral Japanese skills,” said Leon Lu, grade 10. “I enjoyed creating Japanese videos and emulating the speech styles of the Tamagawa students, and the most challenging thing for me was to be able to use the correct vocabulary and grammar to get my point across.”
While senior Kaitlin Hsu discovered that she and one of her buddies shared an interest in journalism, she felt that “the most interesting things I learned about my friend were actually kind of the most trivial ones, like when we talked about horoscopes and blood type. Just getting to know these kinds of quirks that you don’t usually share with anyone else, but it’s always kind of in the back of your mind.”