Japanese Students Learn About American Education

Chiyuki Kakinuma performs in “So-ranbushi,” a Japanese dance, during a Sayonara Party hosted by Bunkyo University students as a thank you to host families and Charles County Public Schools. (Submitted photo)
LA PLATA, Md. (March 12, 2009)—Japanese teacher candidates said sayonara to host families and Charles County Public Schools on Feb. 5 following a two-week educational visit to learn about American education.

During a sayonara party held at North Point High School, the 33 education students from Bunkyo University provided school officials and host families with cultural performances including traditional Japanese dances, songs and a fashion show. Mitsuharu Yonezu, a visiting professor who traveled with the students, said the experience was helpful for the students to understand American education. "We are interested in the culture and life in America," he said while thanking those who made the visit possible. "This program helps us continue warm relations between the United States and Japan," Yonezu said.

This is the 19th year of the partnership between Bunkyo and Charles County Public Schools. Starting in 1987, the Japanese teacher candidates began visiting Charles County and the students attend seminars, visit classrooms and co-teach lessons. The purpose of the program is to provide the students the opportunity to identify similarities and differences between American and Japanese education; offer mini-lessons on Japanese culture and language for CCPS students; experience American family life; reflect on the relationship of American culture to practices in education; and practice English as well as for CCPS teachers and students to acquire better knowledge of Japanese language and customs. Students spend one of their two weeks living with volunteer host families from around the county.

Natsuki Kurita, one of 33 student teachers from Japan, performs a traditional dance during a Sayonara party for host families and Charles County Public Schools’ officials. (Submitted photo)
Superintendent James E. Richmond told the students that he hopes their visit provided them with information and cultural experiences that they cannot get from a book or classroom. "As Superintendent of Schools, I have worked on this partnership over the years and look forward to many more years of cooperation between our school systems. In an age when technology puts global information at our fingertips, it becomes more important that we maintain these partnerships so that our teachers gain first-hand experience and knowledge outside of the classroom. Technology allows us to read about other nations, but nothing replaces person-to-person contact. A couple of years ago, I had the privilege to visit Japan and your school system, and was able to bring home a better understanding of your educational philosophies, your culture and your traditions," Richmond said.

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