Students from Hiroshima’s Johoku High School, in coordination with Saipan Mayor Dave Apatang and Saipan Business Language Institute’s Ikuo Yoshizawa, visited Marianas Baptist Academy during their annual Saipan visit on Tuesday.
Matt Branch, Integrated Studies Program teacher, group leader, and Department of International Understanding head, said a new group of students come and visit Saipan every year. They come here for nature experience, peace education, and career education.
“It is important because the students get to experience the home stay. They get to use English as a real live medium of communication. Another thing is the history between this country and Japan, Hiroshima in particular with the atomic bomb, so peace education in particular is important,” he said.
Having lived in Japan for 16 years and taught at Johoku for nine years, Branch thinks that language is only a barrier and that the students have the choice to pursue a higher education based on English.
“Today, language may be a barrier, but communication still occurs through body language, gestures, and the motivation to communicate, so those types of feelings bubble up within the students and they want to communicate. They begin to understand that English is a tool as opposed to being a subject that you have to learn in school,” said Branch.
According to him, there is a certain sense of welcoming that comes from Saipan that cannot be felt elsewhere.
“The trip to Saipan is always fantastic. Everybody is always welcoming, and the students have a wonderful experience here. With home stay, they always come back with positive feedback about the home stay, and the students maintain constant contact with the families,” he said.
Johoku High School principal Mitsuhiko Iwamoto thinks that being involved on a global scale is beneficial to the students.
“I believe that global awareness is very important for those that are in the 21st century. I do hope my students learn foreign languages, foreign culture, and the foreign lifestyle. I think that one of the very important things when it comes to the global mindset is to understand the differences of one another. That is very important to my students. I do hope that they learn that,” said Iwamoto.