The end of January marked the beginning of the winter video conferences between grade 6 students and their same-age buddies from Harker’s sister school, Tamagawa Gakuen, in Tokyo, Japan.
“Every single one of our sixth graders has been partnered with a buddy in Japan who they’ve been emailing through their computer science class,” said Jennifer Walrod, Harker’s director of global education.
During the recent conference sessions, the students conversed with their buddies face to face (via the video chats) and participated in a fun game show-style question and answer activity.
Back in September, grade 6 students “met” their Tamagawa buddies and families from Japan for the first time via two separately held video conferences.
Those prior initial meetings for Harker’s 27 middle school students participating in the Tamagawa exchange program served as a prequel to the even more exciting live meetings which occurred Oct. 16 when Tamagawa students visited Harker in person. This spring, a contingent of Harker’s grade 6 students will head to Japan as part of the reciprocal exchange program.
“The video conferences are fun events held on the Blackford campus. We have a translator present to assist with communication,” explained Walrod. “The students are always so excited for them!”
Tamagawa Gakuen is a K-12 school and university 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 recent video conferences have now set the stage for the upcoming grade 6 trip to Japan. Meanwhile, kindergartners also had their own special video conferences where they had the opportunity to meet, explore one another’s classrooms, share their likes, and sing songs in both English and Japanese.
The video conferences and reciprocal student exchange program with Tamagawa are examples of Harker’s rich global education program, which has long strived to weave worldwide activities into its students’ daily lives.