Exchange brings
354 students to isles

The class from Japan will visit
Moanalua High School tomorrow

More than 350 students from Hiroshima Kokutaiji Senior High School in Japan will spend the day at Moanalua High School tomorrow, sampling local culture -- from hula to Spam musubi.

The visit by the entire junior class of the Japanese high school is believed to be the largest yet by exchange students to a local public school.

"Hosting 354 students is a huge logistical challenge for all educators and administrators involved, but everyone feels it is definitely worth the effort for student interaction and real-world learning," said Teri Ushijima, vice principal at Moanalua.

Gina Nakahara, project coordinator and Japanese language teacher, said students are looking forward to the cultural exchange and applying what they have been learning in language class.

"It provides the perfect opportunity for students to demonstrate their interpersonal communication skills in Japanese in a very real situation," she said. "Students will be called on to narrate tours of the school in Japanese and teach how to make Spam musubi."

Musubi, or rice balls wrapped in seaweed, are a traditional Japanese snack, but using Spam is an only-in-Hawaii twist. Moanalua students will also teach hula and Spanish dancing workshops.

A team of students from both schools will try to develop a Web site on the visit before the end of the day to share with parents in Japan and Hawaii. (See for updates.)

The two schools have been sister schools since December 2001. Moanalua, which has 1,900 students, hosted a large contingent from the Hiroshima school last year, in the first such visit.

"It's great for our students, whether they speak Japanese or not," said Sherwin Pang, student activities coordinator at Moanalua. "The language thing doesn't matter. By midday they're communicating somehow."

Principal Darrel Galera said that students quickly forged friendships last year and made plans to get together outside of school.

His school intends to reinforce ties this year through student e-mail and videoconferences.

So far, Moanalua students have not traveled to the Hiroshima campus, but the school hopes to arrange a visit, Ushijima said.

The Japanese students spent the first part of their week in Hawaii visiting tourist attractions.


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