M.C. Perry students experience traditional Japanese school
KUGA, Japan -- Matthew C. Perry Junior High school’s seventh-grade class from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, visited Takamori Midori Junior High School in Kuga for a cultural exchange Feb. 2, 2016.
Midori Junior High visits M.C. Perry annually, but this year the air station’s seventh-graders seized the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese junior high school.
Upon arrival, M.C. Perry students traded their shoes for house slippers and were introduced to a classroom of Japanese students participating in the English seminar exchange. Teachers from Midori Junior High kicked off the event with an introduction and warm up activities designed to get the students acquainted with their counterparts.
“There are many unknowns in the Japanese culture about the military community and stereotypes they may pick up from movies,” said Lorenzo Brown, M.C. Perry Junior High School principal. “Visits to our school and their schools allow students to see each other in a different light. Many realize we are the same inside, we just speak a different language.”
The Japanese students and teachers shared a glimpse into a normal school day in Japanese calligraphy, science and math classes.
“The students were very excited to welcome the American students into our school,” said Yutaka Tsuda, a mathematics teacher at Midori Junior High. “Usually we visit their school, so seeing the American’s reaction to our uniforms, classrooms with very little technology, and hearing us speak English made them a little nervous.”
Emmah Hillyer, M.C. Perry seventh-grader, said she loved that besides the language barrier, they are very similar. She also liked that the students helped serve lunch and didn’t eat until everyone was served.
Brown said he believes experiencing other cultures allows the students to grow and makes each one a richer person.
“Given the relative time period - where the air station is growing - these school cultural exchanges offer a great opportunity for our host nation to get to know us,” said Brown. “I believe that publicity of these exchanges has produced a curiosity in other Japanese schools. Multiple schools have contacted M.C. Perry regarding visits and invitations.”
Cultural events present an opportunity that many students never get to interact with their host nation and build relationships that last a lifetime.
Midori Junior High has been an unwavering ally over the years, but Brown said M.C. Perry will definitely make the time and effort to invite and visit other schools.