Four representatives of the Saipan Mayors’ Office, along with 10 students from both public and private schools, arrived on Saipan last Feb. 11 from a weeklong trip in Japan, where they learned more about the Japanese culture, customs, language, and daily life, as part of the Saipan Mayor’s Office Student Cultural Exchange Program.
According to the student exchange program coordinator Yuki Kishimoto, the 10 students were from Grace Christian Academy, Mount Carmel School, Marianas High School, Kagman High School, Chacha Oceanview Middle School, Saipan Southern High School, and Dandan Middle School.
“We tried to pick students from different schools so that each student will represent each school [on Saipan] and when they get back, they can share his/her experience with their classmates and possibly encourage others,” said Saipan Mayor’s Office special assistant Henry Hofschneider.
He said this exchange program—which the Saipan Mayor’s Office offers every year—is “very beneficial” because it’s an eye-opener for many students. In one case, a student of Japanese ancestry who was born and raised on Saipan said the program allowed him to experience first-hand an aspect of the Japanese culture, way of life, and interaction with families.
The students also got a chance to meet with Kyoto vice governor Suichi Yamauchi, Kyoto vice mayor Shoichiro Suzuki, Shiga Gov. Taizo Mikazuki, Nagano Mayor Hisao Kato, Nagano’s Superintendent of Education Ryuichi Harayama, Joyama Elementary School principal Hideaki Shimizu, and high priest Kansho Kayaki.
Hofschneider, Kishimoto, representatives of the Saipan Mayor’s Office, and the students spent three nights in Kyoto where they visited the governor and mayor’s office in Kyoto, Kyoto Zoo, Toei Uzumasa Kyoto Studio Park, Izutsu Yatsuhashi Pastry Shop, and shopped at Aeon Mall.
The Sanpoen group also hosted a welcome party for them at the Otsu Municipal Culture Hall before they left Kyoto.
According to Kishimoto, the last three days of their trip were spent in Nagano. The students stayed with their assigned host families. We visited Joyama Elementary School, Zenkoji Temple, and Nagano Mayor’s Office. Joyama Elementary School had hosted a welcome party for us at Shinanoji Hotel in Nagano.