MEETING ‘MOMO’ – Sister City Exchange Program

Every summer vacation, students from Shelbyville visit Shizuoka, Japan and students from Shizuoka visit Shelbyville. They stay with their host families about one week. On weekdays, they get together in groups in the morning, and visit various places like schools, companies and shops. They go back to their host family’s home in the evening and spend time by themselves with their host families. On the weekend, they spend all day with their host families. Some go to the zoo, some go to a baseball game and some go shopping together. They spend time doing what they want to do. In Shelbyville, most every year, the welcome party takes place at the Meridian Street Aquatic Center. Every student and their host family are there, eating food and playing together. That’s so fun.

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Most students from Shizuoka are in the second year of junior high school. Students from Shelbyville are middle school or high school students. In Japan, we start to study English when we enter in junior high school. So, for the students from Shizuoka, this is a precious opportunity to try to speak English. It is also a good opportunity for the high school students in Shelbyville who take a Japanese class. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to talk and understand among two different countries people, but it creates good memories. So that’s no problem, it’s so fun. They use a lot of body language, a dictionary, online translate, and sometimes they write words down. They try to tell and understand by various means. Finally when they understand each other, the joy is so much. The longer and longer it takes to understand each other, the bigger and bigger the joy is.

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To spend time in a different country and culture is a precious experience. They can experience the real life while staying with their host families in a foreign country. And this is different compared to ordinary trips. It is also a wonderful experience for the people who host students.

This month, the meeting for students who will visit Shizuoka this summer was held in City Hall. This year marks the 25 year anniversary. Many students can have a good time this summer too.

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毎年の夏休みに、シェルビービルの学生は静岡を訪問し、静岡の学生はシェルビービルを訪問します。学生たちはホストファミリーの家に約1週間滞在します。平日は朝集合してから学校や企業、お店など、様々な場所にグループで回ります。夕方にはホストファミリーの家に戻り、それぞれの家庭でその後の時間を過ごします。休日はホストファミリーと過ごすための日となっているので、グループとしての予定は組まれていません。一緒に動物園に行ったり、野球観戦に行ったり、買い物をしたり、それぞれのファミリーで好きなように過ごします。シェルビービルでは、大きなプールのあるMeridian Street Aquatic Centerでほぼ毎年ウェルカムパーティーが開かれます。学生全員とそれぞれのホストファミリーが参加し、プールサイドで一緒にご飯を食べたり遊んだりして楽しい時間を過ごします。

静岡からの学生のほとんどは中学2年生で、シェルビービルからの学生は中学生と高校生が半々です。日本では中学に入学してから英語を本格的に勉強し始めます。だから静岡の学生にとっては、シェルビーに訪問することは自分の英語を試す貴重な機会でもあります。シェルビービルで日本語クラスをとっている高校生にとってもそれは同じことが言えます。時に、2つの違う国の人同士の会話は、話して理解するのにとっても時間がかかることがあります。しかし、それが良い思い出になったりもして、とても楽しいです。ジェスチャーをたくさん使ったり、辞書を使ったり、オンラインの翻訳を使ったり、文字に書いて伝えたり。あの手この手で伝え、理解しようと努力します。お互いが分かりあえた時の喜びはとても大きいです。1つのことを伝えるのに時間がかかればかかるほど、その喜びもより大きいものになります。

海外で違う文化の中に身を置き、時間を過ごすという事は、とても貴重な経験です。ホストファミリーの家に滞在している間、海外での実際の生活を体験することができます。これは普通の旅行ではできない事です。学生を受け入れる側にとっても素晴らしい経験となります。

今月、今年の夏に静岡を訪れる学生の為のミーティングがシティーホールで開かれました。今年は姉妹都市の交流が始まって25年の記念の年です。今年の夏もたくさんの学生が楽しい時間を過ごせると嬉しいですね。

Comments

  1. Studying abroad and intercultural exchanges are one of the most valuable things that young students can do. It is a wonderful opportunity for young people to develop or grow existing global worldviews through personal firsthand experience. There is great potential for many important lessons to be learned, things such as: not only the similarities that exist between societies and cultures should be celebrated, but also the differences; no matter where one goes around the world, special things and people can be found; and we’re all connected on this Earth.

    • Momoco Shiosaka says:

      I think so too. This stay is my 4th time in Shelbyville. When I came here 10 years ago, I didn’t imagine that I work in City Hall. To meet new people is so fun. And that brings us a new opportunity.

What are your thoughts?