Cultural exchange enjoyed by local students

Students from Eagle Hill School and the Greenwich Japanese School bond over a simple game while enjoying a cultural exchange program at Eagle Hill School. Looking on is Yasuyuki Uchino, principal of the Japanese School, and students, from left, Moe Suzuki of the Greenwich Japanese School, plus Eagle Hill students Connor Morikawa, Cara Mendelsohn, and Eloise Moulton.

Students from Eagle Hill School and the Greenwich Japanese School bond over a simple game while enjoying a cultural exchange program at Eagle Hill School. Looking on is Yasuyuki Uchino, principal of the Japanese School, and students, from left, Moe Suzuki of the Greenwich Japanese School, plus Eagle Hill students Connor Morikawa, Cara Mendelsohn, and Eloise Moulton.

Cultural collaboration was the name of the game last month when students from Eagle Hill School and the Greenwich Japanese School (GJS) participated in a cultural exchange.

Though Eaglle Hill is just one mile from GJS, the mutual administrators of the schools felt that there was a more considerable distance between them in terms of culture that needed to be explored. So, in late January, fourth and sixth grade students from GJS ventured to Eagle Hill for a day of cultural adventures.

In order to make the experience as welcoming as possible, the Japanese students were matched with EHS students in terms of age or grade, with both the Lower School Leadership Council and the Upper School Student Council taking an active role in helping to organize games, sit with their new friends at lunch hour and more.

To help prepare for the Japanese visitors, Eagle Hill students were taught some basic Japanese words in advance of the visit, such as “hello” and “good morning.”

Large posters on the walls listed the names of the visitors in both English and Japanese, and the name tags also conveyed both languages. When the children got together, however, language barriers quickly becomes a non-issue. Despite varying levels of English or Japanese, the students managed to communicate during the classes they attended together, and throughout the games and lunch periods that followed. In one class, the Eagle Hill teacher pulled up the lunch menu for the day and translated it on the computer so that the visitors could see what their choices would be.

At the end of the day, some students had already made friends that they hoped to connect with again when Eagle Hill visits the Greenwich Japanese School in a reverse exchange.

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