Maitland Area School (Australia) and Ohara Junior High School (Japan) have been involved in a student / teacher exchange program for over twenty years. Although the scope of the program has extended in Japan to include more schools from the local area, the aims remain the same: to widen students cultural understanding, develop international friendships and extend students' skills in langauge.
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Our 7/8 class proudly showed off our fantastic agriculture facilities to an enthusiastic group of Japanese students and staff on Thursday afternoon.
The MAS students worked together with the Japanese visitors to complete a literacy activity aimed at improving their English/Japanese translations of common agricultural words.
They then enjoyed a tour of the Ag Block. Each visiting student had the opportunity to hold a lamb, visit the pig shed, feed our calves and walk the goats.
In addition, Olivia and Krystal from Year 10 provided tractor rides for a few lucky Japanese students.
Overall it was a very successful, busy and enjoyable afternoon. Congratulations to all the MAS students for being such great tour guides.
We received many positive comments from the Japanese staff and students about the 'wonderful experience' which was so very different from anything they had seen in Japan.
Before sunrise on Wednesday, 3rd August, Grant Keleher, Colin Bridgman and Star Derrington were at the airport to collect our Japanese guests from Mimasaka City comprising of Katsuta Junior High School, Mimasaka Junior High School, Ohara Junior High School and Sakuto Junior High School as well as their Education Board director.
Without their luggage (which had flown by itself to Hong Kong!), but luckily with their cameras, we visited Glenelg and walked the jetty. A quick stop to buy essentials became a maths lesson on measurement and learning to use the check-out.
At breakfast, more maths lessons were given about money (Thanks Mr Keleher) and great communication by all meant everyone was fed.
Students also bought some warmer clothing and then it was time to hold a koala at Gorge Wildlife Park. The 21 students and 5 Japanese adults also saw and learnt about other wildlife, such as the kangaroo and cassowary.
A warm welcome
On the drive home, we had lunch made by our school canteen (Thanks Terri), and they had a short nap. It was such a wonderful welcome for our guests thanks to our Parents and Friends committee, the school band, staff and especially our host families who were at the Performing Arts Centre on our return.
Our JEP 2014 visitors arrived at the airport at 5:10am.
We traveled to Glenelg for sunrise, a walk on the beach and breakfast,
From there winded our way up to the Mount Lofty summit to see Adelaide. A beautiful day, and in the distance we could just make out Yorke Peninsula and the hummocks.
We headed to Cleland Conservation Park for a tour and lunch. Everyone was fascinated by the tiny potoroos, friendly kangaroos and cuddly koalas.
Then it was off off on the long drive to Maitland. We stopped in at Federation Park for a photo, popped into Ardrossan for fuel and then after a brief tour of Maitland, it was time for the welcome party in the Performing Arts Centre.
Here's our Japan trip (with photos) on a clickable map. Go exploring, just like we did!
pS: Click beneath the map for a full screen experience.
I had the great pleasure of being able to greet the Japanese Exchange Group at the Adelaide Airport on Friday the 10th of August with the support of Val McLean. The group had an exciting yet hectic welcome to Australia with a minor bus incident, an afternoon in Cleland Wildlife Park, a long bus trip back to Maitland and a fantastic welcome held in the PAC with host families.
This week I have had the pleasure of welcoming the Japanese Exchange to our school and community.
It never ceases to amaze me how different it must be to travel to a foreign country, with foreign food, customs and language and adapt for a relatively short period of time.
For me it has been a real thrill to see our students guiding and explaining how things work in our community to our exchange students.
During this week I will be meeting with the officials from Mimasaka City to discuss Maitland Area Schools return exchange in 2013.
Once some initial planning and costings have been completed we are planning to hold a meeting in early Term Four for interested students and parents.
Thanks again to the parents and staff who have kindly opened their homes and lives to our Japanese visitors.
Thankyou to the families who have offered to billet the Japanese Exchange students who will be arriving soon. It is fantastic that we are able to maintain the connections with the Japanese schools and I am hoping that next year our students will have the chance to visit Japan as part of the exchange (the last two opportunities have been disrupted by the bird flu and tsunami!).
From the afternoon of Friday August 10th until early Sunday August 19th a contingent of students from 3 schools within the jurisdiction of Mimasaka City in Japan will be visiting our school and community. The schools are Aida Junior High School, Ohara Junior High and Mimasaka Junior High. The students are all aged 14 or 15 years old.
In 2002 we hosted a group of over 20 staff and students from Ohara Junior High School in Japan. Janine McKay and Tim Tuck travelled with the bus to Adelaide to meet the Ohara staff and students at the Adelaide airport. The group exchanged travellers cheques for Australian dollars in Glenelg then enjoyed afternoon tea in front of Magic Mountain. Running behind time, the bus headed off (through dense traffic!) for Maitland, arriving just over an hour late.
They were greeted at Maitland Area School by teacher Greg Bone then led to the music suite for a welcome reception, with speeches by both principals and introductions to host families.
After a day apart, most of the Ohara staff and students travelled with their home-stay families to Cleland National Park, high in the picturesque Mount Lofty Ranges. The park features many indigenous native species including the kangaroo, Emu, wombat and (most popular!) the koala. The group arrived at 12.00, enjoyed a picnic lunch in the warm sunshine then explored the park, meeting back at the main building for a koala 'holding session'. A sociable, enjoyable (and even!) educational time was had by all.
The Ohara contingent walked through Maitland to the Mayoral chambers at the offices of the District Council of Yorke Peninsula. There they were greeted by Mayor Robert Schultze and the District Superintendent Frank Spiel. They participated in several workshops around the school between recess and lunch then visited the Maitland Kindergarten for the afternoon.
Teacher Greg Bone hosted the Ohara group on a sightseeing tour of Port Victoria and including a visit to Wardang Island, viewing the seals and time for fishing. Students finished their week at school with some final workshops and the farewell assembly.
Our exchange has been going for over 14 years and many of the Japanese students who visited us have older siblings who had visited on previous occasions. There are certainly family links and a history that makes this exchange extremely special. I know that our families develop very special bonds with their Japanese students and there was many a tear shed when the topic of “leaving” was ever mentioned. Last Friday at 6a.m. families gathered to farewell their billets, there were many hugs, tears and promises to write. I had the honour of escorting our visitors to Adelaide Airport and the staff expressed their gratitude to all the families who opened their hearts and homes to their students. I would like to sincerely thank all the families who took on a billet for the 10 days:
S & H Southwood, G & S Honner, K & T Watson, P & S Bittner, T & J Luke, K & J Button, R & S Davey, P & S Brind, T & S Honner, J & D Davey, D & L Smith, R & J Arthur, D & F Love, G & J Bagshaw, C Green and M & B Hector
Without your support we would not be able to provide this program. It is not easy at times to have another young person in your home, one who has very limited English but there are so many positive outcomes and memories.
Last year I had the opportunity to live for a short time with my Japanese family and I enjoyed it immensely. I took away memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
It is great to watch the relationships between our students and the Japanese students grow. Many of the comments were “lost in translation” but through a series of gestures and mimes eventually everyone understood.
I know that our Japanese students went home very tired indeed and on the bus to the airport nearly all of them fell asleep. The staff were very pleased with the program and hope that we will offer the same activities in 2006.
Whilst they were here the Japanese students gained opportunities to experience barbeques, bonfires, wildlife, farming, a reception with Robert Schulze Mayor of the District Council of Yorke Peninsula, visited Maitland Kindy, Point Pearce and Lutheran Schools.
As I farewelled the students it was interesting to note that their baggage as very heavy, the generosity of the families they stayed with was overwhelming, one little girl was the winner with her luggage being 37kg!
The exchange was fantastic experience for staff and students. Staff gathered resources to use in their classrooms and students had an experience that they will remember all of their lives. Being immersed in a school, a home and a culture provides many opportunities to develop relationships and life long friendships. Students commented that they found it was hard work communicating all day as well as eating the copious amounts of food provided. The hospitality we received was overwhelming.
Sign and mime came to the fore on many an occasion with a great deal of laughter and enjoyment once the message was shared. It gives one a real empathy for non-English speaking people and it highlighted for me the need to communicate in all forms.
The people of Ohara opened their hearts and homes to us and it was a truly worthwhile experience. We wish to continue this tradition and look forward next August to the Japanese students and teachers visiting us.