Coinciding with our MS Carnival held on Thursday, April 23, the Middle School hosted 117 seventh-grade students from Meisei Gakuen, a large private school located in northwestern Fuchu city, a short drive from our campus. Their visit provided an excellent opportunity for many of our students to interact with their Japanese peers and put their language and cross-cultural skills to good use.
Excited and curious, the Meisei students arrived just before lunch, accompanied by 10 of their teachers, and spent half a day with us. Students from our Japanese language classes (mostly seventh period Japanese) sat with them in the cafeteria for lunch and made our guests feel welcome, breaking the ice and keeping the conversation flowing.
After lunch, those same students acted as tour guides, showing and explaining to our Meisei guests the campus buildings, facilities, programs and events. Many of our Grade six and seven students who acted as tour guides are heritage speakers of Japanese. But just as many are non-native speakers who have been studying Japanese for only one to three years; they bravely explained as much as they could using their budding Japanese skills. The Meisei students were impressed that many ASIJ students could speak both English and Japanese; they had expected our students to speak English, but not much Japanese at all. Meisei teachers reported afterwards that meeting ASIJ students boosted their motivation to learn English.
The afternoon culminated in our advisory students hosting our guests during the Carnival. Four volunteers from every grade six and seven advisory, along with a handful of grade eight volunteers divided into pairs and each showed a small group of Meisei students a wonderful time. Meisei students were wide-eyed at the food stands, the games and the fun-filled atmosphere. Laughing and smiling, they joined right in with the wet sponge-throwing and myriad of other games. The only disappointment of the afternoon was that their stay was way too short. Fortunately, we have a standing invitation for one or more of our MS grade levels to pay a reciprocal visit to their campus in the fall, which is currently under discussion. Please stay tuned. (Machi Nakamura, MS Japanese Teacher)