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Learning by Doing!

Blythe, Miki, and Samar at the helm of the English classroom!

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.

See, Bonnie, and Maya engage Kichijo students in language-learning by playing charades!
Alice, Georgina, and Aimee beginning their interactive lesson.

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.

Beginning the Sustainable Development Goals exercise in the Kichijo Conference Room.
Miki and her buddy at the conclusion of the event!
Later that same day…Mojo enjoys pancakes with her host sister!
Miki goes kawaii with her new friends….
And the friend groups continue to build.
Aimee and her buddy: Peace, Love, and Kichijo!
Aimee and her buddy, Mai, walking into the Kichojoji evening.
This compelling story connects the past and the present, anticipates the future, and draws a global community into a well-formed neighborhood of humankind: Blythe with her grandparent’s friends who came to meet us at Kichijo today.
FIFTY YEARS ago, this couple befriended Blythe’s grandparents at an “airbase alliance veteran’s community organization” in Japan. The men shared experience in security and combat initiatives, and the women had children of similar age. The couples and families became close friends, learning each other’s language, customs, and traditions, raising families together and apart. Every year for the last FIFTY YEARS these families have exchanged New Year’s greetings and have kept their long and loving global friendship alive. These folks were so very touched to meet Blythe and absolutely delighted by their brief encounter with the next generation born of a friendship forged so many years ago. Bravo! Cheers to friendships deep and wide!

Porter’s + Joshigaikuin

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!

Bonnie-san and classmates.
Alizeh’s on it!
Mojo in motion.
Aimee in action!
Blythe and her cohort.
Elena in her element: around the table with students!
Maya–all smiles at Joshigaikuin!
Seo alternating fluidly and fluently between English and Japanese.
Lydia’s lessons…
Samar gathering discussion points!
Porter’s + Joshigaikuin!
In the Joshi auditorium.
Porter’s in the world: bold, resourceful, ethical global citizens right here!

But we’re not all work here in Tokyo:

Alice and her host sister….
Alice and her… friendly frogs? And has anyone ever seen Alice without a smile? Documented here.
Georgina and her Glam Girls.
Post photo-booth photo?
Alizeh, Lydia, and Amanda under the city lights.

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.

So much to do!

Through the gates of knowledge at Kichijo School.

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.

Alice, Samar, and Alizeh in Japanese archery!
Samar, Alice, and Alizeh prepare for the challenge!
Louise creating ikebana.
Blythe with the master.
Lydia and Aimee working the angles of shin, soe, and hikae.
Mojo on the soccer field.
Calligraphy class.
Intense focus in a delicate process.
Working it!

At the close of another school day, off we go to homeroom for final clean-up and another evening with our global families!

Kichijo daisuki! (“I like Kichijo!”)

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.

Maya making dumplings.
Aimee hard at work folding the dough.
Bonnie rolling the dough.
Mouth-watering deliciousness!
Alice’s restaurant?
And mango pudding for dessert. Yes, please!
In case anyone wants the recipe.
Amanda and Samar in music class, singing a soprano part of “Hail, Holy Queen” from “Sister Act.”
Blythe, Miki, and Lydia lifting their voices.

Earlier this morning, students paired with their Porter’s buddies to share a snippet of their experience so far:

Bonnie and Blythe: Our host families are very sweet and have taken us to so many amazing places including Asakusa and Tokyo University!
Miki and Alice: We are having fun at Kichijo, making new friends and eating amazing food! We’re excited for what’s to come!
Samar and Aimee: Aimeee has gone to a fish market, a Japanese garden, Asakusa Palace, and Disney Sea with her host sister. Samar loves her experience with her host family. They’ve taken her to Tokyo SkyTree and Senso-ji Temple. t home, her host mom teaches her how to cook!
Georgina and Maya: We’re having a great time exploring Tokyo with our host families!
Louisa and Alice: “Us when we eat Japanese food!”
Amanda and Lydia: We went to Asakusa with their host families, dressed in Kimonos, explored the shrines, and ate amazing food. We are enjoying new experiences in a very different culture.
Alize and Mojo: We’ve been having an amazing time in Japan so far! We’ve been to several areas of interest in Tokyo, visited multiple animal cafes, and tried lots of new foods. We’re looking forward to spending more time at Kichijo and we’re excited for our excursion to Hakone!

It’s a School Day!

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. 

IM Tokyo 2020 at the entrance of Kichijo School.

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.

Japanese class this morning: “Hajimemashite.”

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.

Mojo in the air…
…and Samar and Maya in lift-off!
Lydia, Aimee, Blythe, Alizeh, and Georgina loved a throw-around in softball this afternoon.

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.

National Coming of Age Day; Porter’s in Tokyo

Alizeh and her host sister experience a moment of shared experience in Japanese culture. Below are images of Amanda, Lydia, and Marjorie in their elegant kimonos.

“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. 

Amanda, Lydia, and Mojo at an owl cafe!

Here’s a glimpse of what our students experienced today. Many were invited by their host families to participate in this tradition and ceremony.

Lydia, Amanda, and Mojo with host sisters wearing colorful and elegant kimonos.
Lydia, Amanda, and hosts sisters with some wonderful-looking snacks!

Blythe and her host sister dressed in traditional clothing.
Beautiful Asakusa Temple, an icon for the Coming of Age ceremony.

Other students experienced a variety of activities throughout this expansive city:

Bonnie and her host sister at Tokyo Stadium!
Potential Alma Mater? (Tokyo University)
Georgina and the Tokyo 2020 Tennis Team !
Georgina and her host sister in the Tokyo twilight.
Who doesn’t love some Disney? Thank you, Miki!
Seo’s omikuji predicts a successful 2020. Best intentions for the New year!
Samar spent the day with her host family at Asakusa Temple.

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!

Sunday spent exploring Tokyo and settling into homestays

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:

Bonnie and her host sister are already finding friendship.
Louise and Aimee enjoying their host sister and the Tokyo experience!
Miki preparing for a visit to the temple with her host family.
Maya and her host family exploring shrines, temples, and a hedgehog cafe in and around Tokyo!
Maya, her host sister and host mother at a Hedgehog Cafe.
Lydia, her host sister, and new friends enjoying snacks and cards Sunday afternoon. 
Blythe’s host family took her to a cafe with baby pigs to pet!

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!

And our travelers are off with their host families!

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!

Waiting for their host families to arrive with Kat Hashiguchi, Director of International Relations at Kichijo Girls School, in the front row far left.
Blythe and her host family at the hotel before departing for their home.
Amanda with her host father and sister at the hotel before departing for their home .

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).

Today in Tokyo! Saturday, January 11, 2020

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.

Mori Digital Art Museum

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.

Staying healthy in Tokyo during flu season!

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.

Day 1: A good night’s rest and a delicious breakfast!

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.