A unique opportunity: Cabot students delve into Japanese culture

Students at Cabot High School had a unique opportunity to travel to Japan during a two week-trip this summer.

In mid April, Yaeko McNeir, the Japanese facilitator at Cabot High School, was contacted with an incredible offer. Her classes were invited to participate in a program called the Kizuna Project (Bonds of Friendship). A new initiative, the program provides for a fully-funded two-week study tour to Japan. Kizuna is administered by The Laurasian Institution, The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Japan International Cooperation Center and Japan-U.S. Educational Commission. 

A dream come true, the offer was extended to 23 students and two chaperones from each invited school, with 1,000 participants in total from across the nation. Since the number of available Japanese language students from Cabot High School was limited, several students were recommended by other teachers to complete the required number.

The purpose of the program is to promote understanding in the United States of Japan’s recovery after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. The program is also designed to encourage greater understanding between the youth of Japan and the United States and foster long-term and ongoing interest in one another by providing firsthand experiences with the culture. 

The 14-day program – which took place July 1-14 – included several phases. The first involved a deep immersion in the effects of the Great Eastern Earthquake and Tsunami on March 3, 2011. During this phase, students were educated about the causes and effects of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. They also visited the affected areas in the Tohoku region and met individuals who were victims.

A Tokyo study tour was followed by a trip to Yokohama where students enjoyed a short visit and home stay with a host student and family in a Japanese high school. Cabot’s partner school was Yokohama High School for International Studies. 

“The CHS students were greeted on the afternoon we arrived with special programs given by the Yokohama students,” said McNeir. “They shadowed their student hosts through some of their classes the following day. Each student spent two nights with their host family.”

The last phase of the program involved visits to Kyoto, Kobe and Osaka, Japan. Through tours of temples, castles and museums, the students were introduced to the historic culture of Japan including its arts and traditions. “Throughout the visit, students experienced varieties of traditional Japanese food and learned about cultural conventions in Japan.”