Yokosuka summer program gets kids out of the house, into local culture
Stars and Stripes June 23, 2003
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — School may be out for the summer, but officials at Yokosuka hope that doesn’t mean kids will stop learning.
Hoping to elevate a program that started last year, the Yokosuka International Programs Office is looking for 30 students between the ages of 13 and 16 to participate in a summer-exchange program with a local junior high school.
It kicks off July 11, when the American students visit Takatori Junior High School in Oppama, where they will be feted with a tea ceremony and Japanese lunch cooked by the students.
“The goal is to get the students from both sides to communicate, even if they don’t speak each others’ languages,” said Miyuki Takezawa of the International Programs Office. “They find other ways to communicate, through body language and other means.”
Officials say the program aims to educate students and parents about the differences in Japanese and American culture and education.
When the program debuted last year, it was hailed as one of the few organized exchanges that took place in the summer months.
“Both of our children went, and they made some new friends with the Japanese students. We thought it was important that they use the summer for something productive instead of just sitting around the house,” said Jan Harvey, whose son and daughter attended program last year.
Five exchange days are planned so far. On July 13, around 30 Japanese students will visit the base to participate in a skating party and language session.
A few weeks later, the Japanese students return to base for a fishing competition. The American students will visit the Japanese school in August to learn how to build and carry a mikoshi, one of the portable shrines used in Japan’s ubiquitous street festivals.
Students can sign up for the full program or individual sessions by calling 243-4731 at least three days prior to a scheduled event.
The program is open to any Yokosuka student between the ages of 13 and 16. Parents are welcome to come with the students during the events; all transportation and costs will be paid by the Yokosuka program office.