On Sept. 21 and 28, grade 6 students mettheir Tamagawa buddies and families from Harker’s sister school, Tamagawa Gakuen in Tokyo, Japan, for the first time via two separately held video conferences.
The much anticipated initial meetings for Harker’s 27 middle school students participating in the Tamagawa exchange program served as a prequel to the even more exciting upcoming live meetings slated to occur Oct. 16 when Tamagawa students visit Harker. Then in the spring, Harker students will head to Japan as part of the reciprocal exchange program.
“The video conferences are fun events held on the Blackford campus where each Harker family is scheduled for 10 minutes to meet their child’s Japanese buddy and family. We have a translator present to assist with communication,” explained Jennifer Walrod, Harker’s director of global education.
The video conferences began with Harker students introducing their families and asking questions about what their buddies want to see, do, or eat while they are visiting at the end of October. The Japanese buddies also got to ask questions about their fast-approaching visit.
“The students are always so excited for this event! We meet beforehand to discuss what types of questions to ask, the kids brainstorm and write down things. Some students wear various uniforms to show their buddies and even bring in photos of their home, bedroom and family pet to share. The conferences are also a good time for parents to give information about any allergies or special concerns their child may have about traveling to a foreign country. I talk with each family as they leave their video conference,” said Walrod.
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 what should prove to be an exciting student exchange program between the Tamagawa and Harker schools. Through its rich global education program, Harker has long strived to weave global activities into its students’ daily lives.