Promoting exchange between international schools in Japan and the world,
connecting the world with Japan.

Examples of school exchange /Case5 February 2017

Guest School: Nevers High School (Montpellier, France) (Montpellier, France)

Host School: Saginomiya Metropolitan High School (Tokyo)

I would like this international exchange with students from abroad to act as a motivation to study English or pursue activities abroad!

This was the first time we received a school from abroad on an educational trip to Japan. This year of 2016, Saginomiya High School was designated by the Tokyo Board of Education as a school that would promote sister school exchange. In order to do this, I wanted to go forward with domestic language training in the spring, as well as foreign language studies for students from Vancouver, Canada, in the summer of next year. This seemed like it could be good chance to start off those activities.

Besides that, I felt that, in order to motivate students to study English more, it would be best for them to have an exchange with actual students from abroad.

The timing of the visit and the context of the exchange are decided by whoever instructs that grade of students, so making the necessary arrangements was a challenge. The homeroom teachers took the central role, and since there is a Tokyo city class called “Human and Society,” through which we were told we could accept the visiting school, we went with that.

There was really no trouble in connecting with the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau. We spoke around November and first had a detailed meeting about how things would go receiving the school, then proceeded from there.

Above all, I wanted the students to get a feel for what kind of things French high school students think about, as well as why they were coming to Japan, through this exchange. Globalization continues apace within Japan, so I wanted this to become a motivation for them, as high school students, to study English diligently and pursue activities abroad.

I would like to accept visiting schools in the future, as well. One thing I would do differently, though, is to have a bit more time for the students to experience club activities. We did not have enough of a plan for how many people would participate in which club activities and what they would actually do within those activities. I think if we had planned those arrangements well, things would have progressed more smoothly. We only had about forty minutes, so I think it would have been better if we had had about an hour.

Saginomiya High School has the distinctive feature of being easily and conveniently accessible, being located near a train station, and having a school building that is clean and new. The students try their hardest in club activities, and, especially because we have clubs like taiko, kendo, ikebana, tea ceremony, and calligraphy, we can have school exchanges that deepen cultural understanding while experiencing Japanese culture. Beyond that, by talking about different things at the exchange gathering, I would like the different high schools’ students to get to know about each other’s lives. Besides that, I would like it if, through these trips to Japan, students could exchange opinions about what kind of dreams they have regarding the future.

Saginomiya Metropolitan High School
Ishizaka Atsuko Principal

School Exchange

12:20 Nevers High School (France) Arrives
12:35 Lunch
13:30 1st Year "Humans and Society" Class
Greetings from Saginomiya High School, School Introduction, etc.
Nevers High School Introduction.
Students' Song.
Information Exchange (Q&A)
14:10 Transition to Classrooms
14:20 Exchange
15:30 Taiko Performance
16:00 Club Activities
Taiko
Kendo
16:45 Farewell Party
17:00 Departure from School
Lunch

School Introduction

Information Exchange (Q&A)

Exchange
Taiko Performance
Club Activities (Kendo)
Farewell Party

School Exchange Interview

Saginomiya Metropolitan High School(Tokyo)

Nevers High School (Montpellier, France)

We coordinate things so as to not put burden on both guest and host schools. We arrange things with balance in mind, even for themed exchanges, like brass band or sports exchange.

Supervisor of Educational Travel to Japan, Tourism Affairs Department, Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation)

The city of Tokyo began holding educational trips to Japan in 2007. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, the Education Bureau, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Citizens and Cultural Affairs, and the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau (Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) make up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Council for the Promotion of Educational Travel to Japan. Before then, we had gotten requests from foreign schools to hold school exchanges but there had not been a department to receive these requests, so we created one. Our bureau acts as secretariat.

When making exchange arrangements, we are most careful to avoid putting a burden on the host school’s teachers. Once a year, we conduct a survey in metropolitan and private schools, as well as the Board of Education, to see if there is any interest in holding exchange with overseas students. We ask schools to take on exchanges based on this survey. Through this survey, we also see if there are any obstacles when hosting overseas schools. We often hear that there is too much of a burden on the teacher in charge of the exchange or that the preparation period is too short, so we try to mediate between the guest and host schools to turn down impossible requests in advance and make sure that the host school’s teachers do not overwork themselves to the point that they would not want to participate next year. We want schools to only do what is within their means.

We chose Saginomiya Metropolitan High School to host this time because they expressed strong interest in the survey. We had been thinking we would like to help them host students from abroad if the proper conditions presented themselves, when a request from Nevers School came through the JNTO. It was the perfect group size, so we thought the school would be easy to host and reached out to Saginomiya. There tends to be certain group sizes depending on the country and region, and oftentimes guest schools from Europe, the U.S., and Australia are relatively small-scale.

One attractive thing about holding educational travel to Japan in Tokyo is that it is safe compared to other countries’ capitals. There are also many shrines, temples, art galleries, and museums, so it is easy to put together itineraries based on school’s priorities. Public transportation is also well developed so if the students buy a one-day pass, it is easy to move about as a group. Furthermore, there are over 500 prefectural and private schools, so it is possible to respond to specific requests such as a request for an all-girls school or for a school accessible by public transportation.

Recently, requests for educational travel to Japan – beyond the ones we’ve had up to now that were based on cultural or club activities and exchange between students – have increasingly been for themed exchanges, focused on brass band, soccer, and many others. In such cases, we receive data from the guest school beforehand regarding their performances or competitions and make sure the levels of the guest and host schools are even.

Recently, there have been times when even if schools express an interest in hosting exchanges, there hasn’t been the same interest from abroad. Because of this imbalance between supply and demand, we thought there was a need to take the initiative to conduct public relations abroad. Two years ago, we began going to Taiwan, and starting this year we are going to America.

Receently, the Japan Foundation has started providing funding to the JNTO, and I think there are about six schools in Tokyo hosting from countries as diverse as France, Indonesia, and Argentina. From the position of host schools, I think it is a very good situation.

We would like for the JNTO to use its grasp of each proposed itinerary and make arrangements with local governing boards. This would be helpful in cases where schools in Chiba could host in place of schools in Tokyo or in making sure schedules based on the same itinerary but for different schools worked well.

The goal of the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau is to promote tourism. It may seem that educational travel to Japan has little relevance to this objective, but it is relevant when considering the business of having children come from overseas to engage in exchange with their peers in Tokyo, become fans of Tokyo, and come back again in the future. These days, students can stay connected through methods such as LINE, even after the exchange, so in that sense it is also a good opportunity for hosting students to turn their eyes toward other countries.

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