Assistant principal, Westport High School
The snow was falling on Monday morning, March 3, as the 15 students and two teachers who had arrived the night before from Japan entered Westport High School to begin a two week exchange visit.
The students had never seen snow before so it was a wonderful setting for their American educational experience.
The students and teachers would be staying in the homes of Westport High students and living the life of a typical high school student.
The first impressions after two days shared by Sumire Miyazato and Kaho Hirata are that the school day at Westport High is much shorter than at Naha Kokusai High School in Okinawa, Japan.
Students at Kohusai begin the school day at 7:30 a.m. just as the Westport students do but in Kohusai the day ends at 5 pm and then the typical homework takes about 3 hours of their evening to complete.
The focus of the visiting students stay in Westport is to improve their English language skills. The program began in 1981 and is believed to be one of the longest running exchange program in the U.S. The exchange is the result of a great deal of hard work and planning on the part of science teacher Arlyn Bottcher.
The students had scheduled many adventures outside of the high school during their stay. Weekend plans included a Providence Bruins Game, and a visit to Boston where they will see the JFK Library, Fenway Park, Boston Commons, Harvard and MIT.
The Japanese students provide an enrichment experience for Westport students as they exchange their customs and culture with our students and begin a friendship that crosses many miles but may last a lifetime.