Learning the cultures and traditions of others promote respect, which would lead to better understanding, according to Marianas High School principal Cherlyn Cabrera and visiting Participate and Learn program director Kuniko Sasaki.
Sasaki and program founder Yasuo Miyazama are part of a 180-person delegation of Japanese students and their chaperons, teachers, and officials of Seisa High School that spent almost a week on Saipan where they visited MHS and San Antonio Middle School.
The Japanese group’s visit coincided with MHS’ annual celebration of Cultural Day last Friday, where an hour-long program featuring dances and music from each culture was held. It was also the PAL program’s 30th anniversary.
Cabrera said the MHS’ student population is diverse, with 18 different ethnicities, and the annual celebration does not only promote local culture—Chamorro and Carolinian—but also those of other ethnicities studying in one of the CNMI’s oldest schools.
“This is an opportunity by the students to learn different cultures. Some of the clubs or each class—freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors—were also asked to choose and study to represent another culture. You’re also promoting your culture and at the same time you also learn the culture of others,” Cabrera said.
“We are celebrating all the cultures. This is part of our efforts in showing that we’ve become global and we need to understand each of our differences,” added Cabrera, who welcomed the Japanese delegation along with Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan), Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), and 2015 Miss Northern Marianas Jian Joyner.
Sasaki, who has been part of the PAL program for 20 years, said every year they bring Japanese students on Saipan as part of educating and introducing them to other cultures.
“This is a wonderful program for the young generation so they would learn the type of life of other people in order to better understand each other. This also show that we can still communicate even beyond the language barrier,” said Sasaki, who considers Saipan her second home.
“It is important to let the young generation learn beyond their country’s borders. Learning our differences is a key on how to better understand each other. Hope this understanding would lead to friendship that would bring a peaceful world, a world without war,” added Sasaki, who became slightly emotional.
More than 30 booths were spread out at the east side of the MHS campus, while the school’s different clubs and the visiting Japanese students had various presentations of songs and dances.