David Thompson Secondary School students extended their hospitality to their foreign friends from Japan when they hosted a welcoming tea ceremony on April 2, 2013.
Twenty students from Yokohama Science Frontier High School (YSFH) are currently on exchange from Yokohama, Japan. They joined community leaders, school board officials and dignitaries for the get-together.
A group from each school made a presentation introducing their schools and various programs that are available. Speeches were also made by both Vancouver and Yokohama teachers, and also the Consul General of Japan for Vancouver.
Sharon Huey, teacher and international exchange program coordinator from David Thompson, explained that the international exchange program provides a valuable experience for students.
"The program is about building a global community," said Huey. "Global citizenship is important and it's something worth striving for."
Huey also explained that the international exchange program gives students a more personal experience than a normal vacation.
"It's different because the students have already formed a bond before they arrived," said Huey. "They're using Skype now, so they've already connected and became friends."
Masa Nishiboro, head of the English department at YSFH, said that the international exchange program started four years ago because Yokohama and Vancouver have an existing relationship as sister cities.
"We wanted to exchange and communicate abroad," he said. "So in 2008, our superintendent came to Vancouver to arrange an exchange program, and in 2009, the first students from Vancouver came to Japan."
Shayla Hossain, a Grade 11 David Thompson student, hosted one of the Japanese students this year and she said it was a great learning opportunity.
"You get to learn about their culture," she said. "But you also get to show them Canadian culture, and in my case, my family's culture too."
Joseph Moon, a Grade 12 David Thompson student, said he could relate to the experience of coming from a different country and being exposed to Canadian culture for the first time.
"I've only been in Canada for a few years; I'm from Korea," he said. "I went through the same thing they did when I first came here."
Overall, Moon has enjoyed the whole experience.
"It's great meeting new people and teaching them about a new culture while learning about theirs at the same time."
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