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, Japan. 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 Tamgawa peers keep in contact 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 kindergarteners 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.
Fellow Harker sixth grader Ruya Ozveren added, “Mao Tominaga is my buddy and she is awesome. We had a great time together. It was really hard letting my buddy go, because she felt like my sister and I’ve never had a sister before. When she left she said she couldn’t wait till I come to Japan. She talked about her family and where she would take me when I got there. I also learned a lot about my buddy. I learned a lot of lessons from this experience and can’t wait for the rest in Japan!”
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.
In other Tamagawa news, middle school P.E. teacher Chrissy Chang spent time in Japan as Harker’s visiting exchange teacher. In the spring, Harker students will head to Tamagawa as part of the reciprocal exchange program. (Look for further coverage on that from Harker News!)