This article originally appeared in the winter 2014 Harker Quarterly.
This year Harker was thrilled to welcome one of the largest-ever contingents of students from its sister school, the Tamagawa K-12 School & University in Tokyo. On Oct. 14, the 28 exchange students, along with their three chaperones, arrived at the middle school for their first in-person meeting with their grade 6 Harker buddies.
Each fall, as part of a long-running program, the Tamagawa students come to Harker for a much-anticipated weeklong visit. Prior to that, Harker and Tamagawa peers stay in touch through video conferences and email exchanges.
While here, the Japanese students stayed with their Harker buddies and their families. They went sightseeing around the Bay Area, and visited and observed classes at the Blackford campus.
Among their many activities, the students made tie-dyed T-shirts with both the Harker eagle and Tamagawa eagle on them (the schools coincidentally share the same mascot), made slushies, went on a scavenger hunt and enjoyed a bittersweet ice cream farewell party. The Japanese students also joined in on classes such as dance, drama, art and P.E.
The Tamagawa students also spent time at the lower school, where they worked with the kindergartners on an origami activity. Previously, the kindergarten students had received an album depicting life at Tamagawa’s kindergarten.
Kishan Sood, a grade 6 Harker student, said that he and his buddy, Satoya, had a lot of fun together. “We went to San Francisco and saw a lot of amazing things there.”
After his buddy returned to Japan, Sood received a thank you email from Satoya. “That really made me feel that he had a great time in America and he appreciated everything that we did for him. That made me feel special,” said Sood.
Jennifer Walrod, Harker’s director of global education, reported that all the students had an amazing time. “When the Tamagawa buddies first arrived, everyone was so quiet and shy. But by the farewell party, the kids were all running around, laughing, taking photos and behaving like the best of friends that they have become,” she said.