KURIHARA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, Japan – Approximately 60 fifth graders from Arnn Elementary School visited Kurihara Elementary School, located near Camp Zama, Nov. 9 for a cultural exchange program.
Kurihara students first welcomed the Arnn students with a traditional “Yosakoi” dance performance. Following that, they broke into groups to conduct a question-and-answer session to get to know each other, went on a school tour, and played traditional Japanese games together.
Naoki Kashiwagi, principal of Kurihara, noted in his opening remarks that the students from both schools speak different languages and were brought up in a different culture, and that those differences can make it a challenge to communicate at times. However, he said he hopes cultural exchange programs like this will serve as an opportunity for students to embrace those differences and be intrigued by the experience as a way to encourage them to learn more about each other.
Dr. Edwin Munoz, principal of Arnn, said the intent of the cultural exchange program is for Arnn students to learn about how the daily school life of Japanese students. Munoz said that in January, the Kurihara students are scheduled to visit Arnn and learn about American school life, and experience American games and culture.
Adair Chapman, a fifth grader at Arnn, said the event allowed her to meet some really cool people and play fun games with them.
“I enjoyed learning about what people do at Kurihara,” Adair said.
Levi Swenson, another fifth grader at Arnn, said her group took her on a tour of Kurihara and played a game that was similar to badminton. Swenson said that through the program, she was able to get to know many of the students at the school.
“It was really fun,” Levi said. “I hope I can play [with them] again.”