In September, students from General Byng School, École Viscount Alexander and Institut collégial Vincent Massey Collegiate welcomed their student exchange program partners from Setagaya, Japan to Winnipeg. On January 13, they met again when our students travelled to Japan for two weeks to stay with their Japanese friends and families.
The students participated in a variety of school activities and cultural events. They learned origami, calligraphy, judo and kendo – a Japanese form of fencing with two-handed bamboo swords. They also learned how to wear the yukata and participated in a tea ceremony.
As well as visiting 13 schools across Setagaya, students were able to visit many Japanese temples in Tokyo and Kyoto, the city of Hakone, Japan and the fourth station of Mount Fuji.
Each of the schools our students attended welcomed them with an assembly where our students gave speeches in Japanese to say thank you and introduce themselves to the community. They also carried themselves as ambassadors for Winnipeg when meeting the Mayor and city councillors of Setgaya, as well as the superintendent of schools.
Group leaders, Judy Farrell, Shannon Tipping, Evelina Pescitelli and Ron Monin, visited the schools and principals to thank them for their contributions and work with our students. Judy and Shannon agree that this type of exchange, “promotes an openness to learning from other cultures, allowing for acceptance and understanding of cultural differences”.
Students returned to Winnipeg on January 28 with plenty of memories and hearts full of appreciation for their Japanese friends and families.