Today, Porter’s students taught English language lessons in Kichijo classrooms. The presentations were intended to be engaging and interactive, and Kichijo students were treated to rounds of charades, step-in / step-out, hangman, fruit salad, school comparisons, and “the north wind blows,” as conversation between school groups grew into peals of laughter that rang and echoed throughout the building. Once again, Porter’s students-as-teachers found their way to a student-centered experience that created a welcoming environment to support long-term learning.
After lunch, Ancient Yasuko Nagase ’96, facilitated the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) curriculum for Porter’s and Kichijo students. About 50 students gathered in the Kichijo Conference Room to play the SDG card game, an exercise that requires students to find creative, collaborative solutions to global concerns such as climate change, poverty and food insecurity, carbon emission and fossil fuel reduction, clean water initiatives, and gender equity.
Our day began with the usual gathering in our Porter’s classroom at Kichijo, then homeroom with host students. Today was our last day of Japanese classes, and students were applying their newly-acquired language skills throughout Kichijo classrooms, in local shops and markets, and with host families and friends. Later this morning we visited another all-girls school in Tokyo, Joshigaikuin, with whom we have developed a close relationship over the course of our InterMission years.
Joshigaikuin is a faith-based school, similar in many ways to Kichijo, yet the differences are apparent immediately: to start, the students at Joshi do not wear uniforms and dress expressively! (Sound familiar?) Joshi students prepared an interactive classroom experience for us, after which both groups of students presented a power point about their respective school communities. Porter’s created a wonderful presentation and spoke about Traditions, athletic teams, the arts, and living in the dorms; additionally, they were filled with pride to share their Farmington home with their new friends at Joshigaikuin.
Porter’s engaged in conversation with all levels of English-speaking students at Joshigaikuin, and made fast and lasting friends with whom they’ll connect, follow, and tag on social media. And who knows–maybe we’ll even see them again in person!
But we’re not all work here in Tokyo:
More and more to come as this grand adventure moves from Kichijo to Hakone over the weekend. The blog never sleeps, so stay updated on our experience as we add to it each day: “Oh, must we dream our dreams / and have them, too?” (Elizabeth Bishop, “Questions of Travel.”) Yes. Yes we must.
Busy academic days, robust afternoon activities, time spent with host families in dinner preparation, and travel throughout Tokyo… We’ve embraced each part of our very full days! Today we enjoyed another day of Japanese instruction, took a yoga and fitness class hosted by six seniors from Kichijo. These six seniors also served as our mentors during calligraphy, where Porter’s learned how to write their names artfully painted in the katakana syllabary. Yesterday’s afternoon activities concluded with ikebana, traditional flower arrangement, Japanese archery, animation recording, and soccer. We’re feeling comfortable making our way around school, building new and lasting friendships with host sisters, buddies, and families.
At the close of another school day, off we go to homeroom for final clean-up and another evening with our global families!
It was another full day at Kichijo, with our second of Japanese instruction, cooking and music classes, ikebana, animation recording, Japanese archery, and dance. It seems we’ve found a rhythm and pace that suits our time in Japan, which last week felt as if it would stretch in front of us forever, and this week feels all too brief. Today’s experiental adventures afforded students an opportunity to learn and play, play and learn.
Earlier this morning, students paired with their Porter’s buddies to share a snippet of their experience so far:
Today was our first day of classes at Kichijo School. Porter’s students arrived with their host sisters by train, bus, and on foot. (Students and families are not allowed to drive to school.) Most Kichijo students have an average commute of 45 minutes–often more–and take a variety of trains and/or buses to arrive on time. Porter’s students followed along carrying backpacks with artfully-presented bento box lunches; clothes for afternoon activities, and “inside shoes” for the school day.
After homeroom, we had reflection time in the classroom designated for Porter’s students. As we finished our time together, our Kichijo coordinator, Kat Hatsugashi, arrived and divided us into two groups: “Pinks,” since the Kichijo School color is pink, and “Daisies.” Imagine the sweet, collective “awwwwwww!” when the Porter’s students heard their prized Daisy name applied here at Kichijo! Each group began the academic day with two hours of Japanese instruction.
Following our lesson, students met Yasuko Nagaske ‘96, who is also a former Kichijo student. Yasuko arranged our excursion to Hakone on Sunday. Yasuko has been gracious, generous, kind, and inspiring to all of us as we’ve navigated our IM Japan for the last four years. We are tremendously grateful to Yasuko for creating meaningful opportunities and experiences from which we learn more about this country, its spirit, history, traditions, imagination, and culture.
Once the academic day concluded, we turned our attention to homeroom clean-up, an important moment at the end of the school day.
Afternoon activities resumed in full, with students engaged in softball, track and field, and Chinese language class.
At 6:00 p.m. sharp, the school chimes rang softly to the tune of “My Grandfather’s Clock,” and the Kichijo gates closed quietly behind departing students. “Sayonara” until the morning.
“Seijin-no-hi” (Coming of Age Day) occurs annually on the second Monday of January to mark and honor the transition from childhood to adulthood. At 20 years of age, young people throughout the country engage in ceremonies that celebrate their new role and responsibilities as adults. Women wear traditional, elegant, kimonos; men, too, wear kimonos (far less ornamental) or a suit and tie. The day is filled with visits to local shrines for prayers, blessings, and well-wishes for health, happiness, success, and longevity. Families host special (sometimes elaborate) dinners to mark this important rite of passage.
Here’s a glimpse of what our students experienced today. Many were invited by their host families to participate in this tradition and ceremony.
Other students experienced a variety of activities throughout this expansive city:
After a busy weekend with host students and families, we look forward to reconnecting at The Kichijo School tomorrow for our first day of classes. We are eager to share our adventures with one another and begin the next phase of our InterMission immersion together!
With great anticipation and certainly a bit of anxiety, Porter’s students met their host sisters and families to begin their cultural immersion experience. Breakfast conversation was filled with excitement and enthusiasm, mild trepidation, and a willing spirit. To become “informed, bold, resourceful and ethical global citizens,” we must choose to grow and embrace the challenges required to “shape a changing world.” Let’s see how we’re living our Intermission experience from the students’ perspective:
Tomorrow, Monday, is a national holiday called Coming of Age Day, which is when those who turned 21 years old in the last year are celebrated as they are enter adulthood in family-led ceremonies. Kichijo Girls School is closed so our students will have another day to explore Tokyo with their new friends and host families before starting school on Tuesday.
We will post more pictures of the rest of the group tomorrow!
After a good night’s sleep and eating a delicious breakfast, our students spent some time with Kate and Elena discussing the next two days and reflecting on their day yesterday before being picked up by their host families at the hotel. Elena reported that everyone was nervous yet excited to embark on this next phase of their trip!
Kate reported that once they met their families, our students felt ready to go! All of the Kichijo families have welcomed our students into their homes and they are heading off to explore their favorite areas of Tokyo today (Sunday in Japan).
Tokyo 2020 had a busy and wonderful day exploring Shinjuku, Odaiba, and Harajuku.
After breakfast we walked in the area of our Shinjuku Hotel before we departed for the Mori Digital TeamLab Borderless Museum. It was an overwhelming experience at the intersection of art, design, music, and movement.
Students enjoyed free time on their own in the Odaiba area, after which we returned to the hotel for some much-needed rest. True to the commitment of this international experience, students navigated the subway system to expedite our trip to the hotel in one of the most bustling transportation hubs in Tokyo.
This evening finds us exploring Harajuku, a popular and colorful cultural hotspot on the edge of the Meji Shrine.
We are adjusting well to the time difference and immersing ourselves in this incredible cultural experience. Tomorrow morning we’ll meet our host sisters and families to being our exchange program with Kichijo friends. It’s hard to describe the breadth of this experience already; 24 hours ago we were sleepless with excitement, and this evening we are feeling comfortable learning from one another, sharing and supporting group goals and expectations, and building relationships with each other and our host country.
Kate and Elena reported that everyone slept well and that the group was extremely excited about the breakfast spread at the hotel in Shinjuku! So much so that they sent a few pictures to share with you.
The group is off to explore Tokyo for the day, including visiting the amazing Mori Digital Art Museum. Tomorrow (8pm EST and Sunday at 10am their time) they will meet their host families at the hotel mid-morning and head home with them.