Looking Back: Japanese Exchange Students from Sister School Visit CHS (March 18)


Armaan Goel

Japanese Student Hitomi Morikata meets with Sophomore Evan Kenyon during class. The exchange students follow their hosts around during the school day.

Japanese exchange students for Seikyo Gakuen Junior & Senior High School in Kawachinagano, Japan arrived at CHS on March 18th. The students visited CHS for six days, in which they stayed with CHS students and learned about American culture.

Some of the activities planned for the students’ stay included a cheerleading demonstration, a visit with the fire station and the mayor’s office, and a Pacers game. The Japanese students also shadowed their host students, going with them to classes and participating in their own activities together on free days.

“They are going to come to our house to stay for a week,” Vivek Patel, exchange student host and sophomore, said. “We are going to do all of these fun activities such as bowling, laser flash, we are going to take them out to eat, and I think we are going to walk around in downtown.”

Patel said that he has had a strong interest in the program even before he came to high school.

“A couple of years ago when my brother was still in high school, he went to Japan and he brought home a Japanese exchange student,” Patel said. “I (participated in the program) when I came to high school, so (during Freshman year), I went to Japan, and in just like a week or to a Japanese student is going to come stay at my house.”

Another participant, Drew Grimes, chaperone host and earth sciences teacher, said that he does not have much experience with this type of program, but is excited for the experience it will provide.

“I don’t have a lot of experience with cultural diversity, especially people coming from another culture, where there’s no real assimilation or wanting to assimilate into the U.S., (they are) just here to learn,” Grimes said. “I’m excited, I like to always just try to learn and make myself better, it’s one of my goals and for 30 years now.”

This is not the first year that students from Seikyo Gakuen have visited CHS, however. Seikyo Gakuen has established a long standing relationship with our high school, and this year is the 30th anniversary of our sister school relations.

“For thirty years we have had a relationship, built mostly on the exchange program with Seiko Gakuen Junior Senior & High School,” Kelly Douglas, Director of Japan Exchange Program and Alternative Education Teacher, said. “It started actually at Carmel Middle School through the (National Association of Secondary School Principals). We have since broken off from that group, but that’s where it started it started, as a leadership building activity and also an activity to bridge cultures.”

For CHS students looking to get involved with the Japanese exchange program there are several ways to do so.

“The easiest thing to do is just to meet our Japanese students when they come,” Douglas said. “We will have an Ice Cream Social on Tuesday the 22nd in the Freshman Cafeteria, and we welcome guests that would like to come and meet our Japanese students. If you know a hosting student, just invite yourself along on some of their excursions together, and we always make some nice friendships through that.”

Additionally, at the beginning of next school year, students will have the opportunity to apply for CHS’s trip to Japan the following summer.

“I think you should definitely do (the program) because it invites culture into your home and into America,” Patel said. “It really builds a reputation not only for the school, but also for the nation, showing how welcome we are. It helps you on a personal, national and school level, and so you should definitely do it, it’s definitely fun.”