A cultural immersion at St Joseph’s Lochinvar

St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar were recently visited by three staff and ten Year 8 and 9 students from their Japanese Sister School, Izumigaoka Junior High School in Kyoto.

The program allows students and teachers from both schools to gain genuine insights into the respective cultures; learning about family life, daily routines, schooling, cuisine, sport, cultural practices and so much more.

Over the past eight years, the program has given students from both schools, a glimpse into another culture and enabled them to discover that their own societal values and norms are just one in a world full of diversity. 

Experiences like this can only benefit students, as it allows them to see the world through another person’s perspective with compassion and respect – something that is essential in the world we live in today.

The visiting staff and students spent eight days at the College, beginning their time at a welcoming assembly where the Japanese students spoke about their hopes to improve their English and make friends during their visit.

Through organised activities such as attending regular classes, presenting information about their own school life, conducting tea ceremonies and meeting their pen pals from Year 7 Japanese classes, along with interviews with the Year 11 Preliminary Society and Culture class and the Intercultural Sports Day, the confidence and capacity in a second language in students from both schools has grown significantly. 

However, it is perhaps in the socialising with their peers and host families that the greatest insights into both cultures has occurred and the true value of this Sister School exchange has emerged.

A special thanks must be extended to Mrs Midori Cunningham for her meticulous preparation and constant oversight of all aspects of the exchange program, ensuring a wonderful experience for all students.

The support offered to her by Mrs Hales, Mrs McCort and all members of the school executive has also made this visit possible and successful. 

Finally and most importantly, we extend our gratitude and thanks to each host family who extended their hospitality to each of the ten Japanese students and to the three teachers from Izumigaoka Junior High School. It is this generosity of spirit that makes such an exchange possible.

The friendships formed and insights learned about each other’s cultures will last a lifetime.

We look forward to further enriching the bonds made when our students visit Kyoto for the 2020 Sister School Exchange.

We trust that the friendships, memories and experiences they have shared will continue into the future – to further strengthen the bonds between Japan and Australia.

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