MCS reinforces strong links with Japan


Despite the announced withdrawal of the only direct flight between Saipan and Japan, Mount Carmel School is reinforcing its historic links with Japan with a number of cultural exchange programs.

Earlier this year, Japanese teacher Akemi Ishikawa met with representatives from the Japan Consulate to discuss the Japanese Exchange and Teaching program, also known as JET. With JET, the school has hosted several teachers from Japan over the years who complete a teaching practicum alongside Mount Carmel School teachers.

According to school president Galvin Deleon Guerrero, the program has been huge success. “It’s been great to have our teachers guide and mentor our friends from Japan, but our teachers and students have also learned a lot about Japanese culture and history in the process.”

As part of the JET program, the Japan Consulate and the school are also encouraging students to consider applying to colleges in Japan. Ishikawa looks forward to helping students with the process. As she put it, “If any student is interested in studying in Japan, they can come see me; I would love to help them.”

Some students who may take her up on the offer are seniors Jonelle Toskas and Erika Mendiola and 8th grade student Taliyah Bocago. The three recently returned from a cultural exchange trip to Japan.

Toskas thoroughly enjoyed the trip. “I really liked learning more about their culture and lifestyle. Eating their food and joining for their daily lives was very insightful.”

Mendiola, who is also the school’s Student Council president, agreed. “I liked that we got to learn more about the history of the places that we visited and we also learned more about the connection between Saipan and Japan.”

That connection is rooted in the island’s history before World War II when the Northern Marianas was under the jurisdiction of Japan. During that era, Saipan’s economy was developed as the sugar hub of the Pacific and many on island studied at Japanese schools. This connection continued after the war as many Japanese families and tourists visited the islands, at one point making the Japan market the largest source of tourism for the islands.

For Mount Carmel School, the connection to Japan stems all the way back to the school’s opening in 1952, when the first classes were held in the administration building of the old sugar mill. (PR)

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