Students from Kojo High School in Kanagawa, Japan, have been paying visits to the Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk for 17 years. But this year's trip was certainly among the more eventful ones.
Less than three hours after the 30 Japanese students and their chaperones took off for the United States, their homeland was rocked by a massive earthquake and a resulting tsunami that left much of the northern part of Japan in ruins. I was a little concerned when we found out about it, Yoshino Akihiro, a 16-year-old sophomore, said at Tuesday nights potluck supper for the Japanese visitors and their host families. Fortunately, all my family is all right, but there are still problems with electricity and transportation.
Those worries were put aside during the dinner and ceremonies in which the visitors received pens, backpacks and certificates from the Center for Global Studies. Entertainment provided by Japanese and American students followed.
The evening before the students had attended Jam for Japan, a quickly organized benefit concert at the Fairfield Theater Company, which raised more than $3,500 for relief efforts in Japan.
On Wednesday, several of the Japanese students will join members of the Norwalk all-city band when it performs at McMahon before they return home at the end of the week.
What can students learn from a cultural exchange? Has your child attended the Center for Global Studies and experienced these benefits?
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