Akiruno Student Cultural Exchange trip is meeting̢۪s highlight

Marlborough – Local education met with an international flavor during the Marlborough School Committee meeting April 27.  Sharing the experience of a postponed 2009 trip to Japan, about a dozen students and 20 adults turned out to report to the School Committee on the Akiruno Student Cultural Exchange trip that took place in January. 

    The original trip, scheduled for May 2009, was postponed by the global H1N1 pandemic, leaving Marlborough Public School participants unable to reach Japan until early 2010.  Once the flu threat was over, the students enjoyed many “foreign” experiences. Nearly every student commented on the new foods: the preference for the thin soban noodles over the thicker udon noodles; the discovery of tempura in all its delights – pumpkin, shrimp, squash; and of course, the students’ universal dislike of shishimi, while still eagerly anticipating trying sushi.  But it was the waffle cone shaped like a fish and filled with pudding that got Mayor Nancy Stevens to inquire of the students if the creation was really as delightful as it sounded. The students assured her it was.

    “I felt like I was a princess,” said one student about her host family, a sentiment echoed by all who visited.  Many commented on the unending hospitality and the (over)attentiveness to personal comfort. They recalled laughing with their hosts, even though they didn’t speak the same language.  They enjoyed the heated toilet seats in a very nice cabin after a mile and a half walk, and the unexpected attention of nine people who witnessed a simple nosebleed. All of the recalled memories illustrated the courtesy of the Japanese people experienced by the Marlborough youth and those adults lucky enough to join them. 

    Seventh-grade science teacher Larry Keating, who was on his second trip to Japan, was one of those lucky adults.  He spoke about  the eagerness of an older Japanese man to interact with the visitors,

    “We could communicate in a common language despite a separation of 7,000 miles” Keating said.  The common language being limited Japanese, non-existent English and a shared interest in the bonsai tree. 

    All participants expressed a desire to someday return to Japan. Those with deeper roots to the program, those who knew their host family prior to this trip, spoke with anticipation of continuing the relationship with other members of their host family in the years ahead. 

    The value of cultural exchange is clearly seen by the Marlborough School Committee, whose members had nothing but praise for the program and  pledged to continue it. 

    “I hope you take the opportunity to pay it forward, pass on what you learned,” said committee member Katherine Hennessy, “because everyone can make a difference.”

    There were several differences described between the world they experienced in Japan and the world they experience every other day.  One difference, a student pointed out, were the bumps in the sidewalk, direction markers to help you find your way.  Another said the streets in Japan were remarkably clean and there was recycling for all types of materials. And in 11 days of touring, they did not see any graffiti. 

    Because of these differences, most of the youthful participants expressed an interest in making a difference in their own communities.

    Later, academic excellence in the Marlborough Public Schools was showcased by Superintendent Mary Carlson’s announcement that 11 sixth- and seventh-graders from the 4-7 School won $1,000 apiece in the MathMovesU Scholarship program.  Taking 7 percent  of the total awards, the 4-7 School receives $1,000 for each award winner, totaling $11,000, money that could be used to purchase Smart boards with interactive technology for the math classrooms. 

    Only 150 scholarships are awarded nationwide in a competition that draws almost 3,000 entries.  The award-winning students are: Danya Gaudet, Adriana Giordano, Jared Graham, Isabella Lopez, Mikayla Moynahan, Omar Navqi, Ella Riah, Amy Saunders, Ruth Schade, Samantha  Strella and Jacob Suvalskas. 

    The international experiences of Marlborough Public School students are on track to continue with the support of the School Committee and a school year 2010-2011 budget of almost $48.5 million,; a 2.8 percent increase from the 2009-2010 school year budget.  A budget, committee member Margaret Dwyer pointed out, that has 26 fewer people on the payroll than last year – a sign of the turbulent economy.

    With the chair of the School Committee not voting, the budget was approved to be forwarded to the mayor.  The mayor, being the chair of the School Committee, said the school budget is the only question in the legislative process in which she does not vote, because as mayor, Stevens said, she sees a broader view of municipal finance outside the confines of the school budget. 

    Prior to adjournment, the committee was reminded again of Marlborough’s educational ties to distant places, as the school community is waiting with baited breath to get word from the 17  students and two adults who are currently on an expedition to China.   

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=6977

Posted by on Apr 30 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Please complete this math problem before clicking Submit * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

Recently Commented

  • Doug Stone: Thanks Peter. I hope to help out in the future.
  • Doug Stone: Thanks for your support as well Gerald!
  • Gerald Griggs: This is fantastic and we in aviation appreciate what Mr. Stone and others are doing to inspire...
  • Peter Alberti: Having caught the aviation bug along with my son just over a year ago at a Young Eagles rally, I...
  • Gina Tiberio Hamilton: Thank you for printing this and raising awareness for the Walk to End Alzheimers. At $6,245,...