Rainer Turim, ‘18
On December 12th, ten students from Nagoya University’s Affiliated Upper School arrived in New York City. BHSEC students and their partners had been emailing and messaging each other for some weeks before they arrived Saturday morning. The moments following the Japanese students’ arrival were surreal, many scrambled to find their exchange partner in the crowd of students.
Like many of the Japanese students, it was Kosuke Shimokata’s first time in America and it was sure to be worthwhile. He and his classmates went sightseeing almost everyday that week during BHSEC classes, visiting places like the Statue of Liberty and the American Museum of Natural History. Students from BHSEC took their exchange students out to dinner frequently to become familiar with the large variety of foods in New York. It was not until the last weekend that there were a few big adventures like walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, visiting One World Trade Center, Times Square, Yankee Stadium, Coney Island, and much more.
Despite a possible language barrier between the students and their exchange student, relationships were definitely formed and kept to last. One of the Japanese students, Reiko Ishibashi, explained after arriving back in Japan that, “I came to like New York. I’ll [come back] to New York someday, [I] promise!” Many of the students plan on keeping in touch with their partner until they see them again in March when BHSEC students will travel to Nagoya, Japan.
Luca Cristo, Year 1, felt that the week allowed him to see more of the city, “Having them here and showing them around made all of the garbage and trash in New York City stand out to me more knowing that it probably was completely new to them.” The exchange showed Cristo a new perspective of the city. Likewise, 10th grader Chris Stauffer enjoyed the week he spent with his partner. Stauffer explained that “The Japan exchange program was an amazing experience. [He] got to introduce a foreign kid to all of [his] favorite parts of New York, and [made] some great friends along the way.”
The exchange included six tenth-graders and four year-one students. One tenth-grader, Gina Andrade did not hold back tears when it came time to final goodbyes Sunday morning at John F. Kennedy Airport. “It was great. The first day was hard. We were trying build trust between us. After it was great. Going to places trying a bunch of foods that I hadn’t tried before. It was quite an adventure. Although the hardest day was [Sunday]. I couldn’t look at Junna at breakfast. I have a hard time saying goodbye.” Junna probably felt the same, because like Gina she was also tearful.
The final day of the Japanese students’ visit was heartbreaking for many but also exciting for others. “We’ll see you soon!” shouted many of the BHSEC students as the Japanese students left for their long flight home. In March, these ten BHSEC students will travel to Nagoya to see their friends again for another two-hundred-sixteen hours.