As the Japanese Immersion program has expanded, OyaNoKai has had to make adjustments to the 5th grade Cultural Exchange. The 2015 exchange was the first trip to have three separate itineraries. Sixty-seven students travelled to Japan with 25 going to Kobe, 29 to Fukuno and 12 to Sapporo. Although a few days shorter than past trips, the exchanges were a great success with each student having one homestay experience and opportunities to visit famous cultural sites. The students visited our host schools in each of the respective destinations.
OyaNoKai has established reciprocal exchanges with three schools on the mainland of Japan: Fukuno Elementary, Sumaura Elementary and Katoh School. Depending on the number of students traveling, we will send students to each of the cities. In 2015, the students traveled together and split upon arrival in Japan to Nanto City and Kobe. After their homestays, the groups met up in Kyoto for two days of sightseeing in the historical city of Kyoto and then ended their trip with a visit to Nagashima Onsen. Prior to arriving at Kansai airport, the groups spent the afternoon in Nara.
Kobe – Sumaura Elementary
In response to the devastating Kobe earthquake in 1995, Richmond students raised money through a penny drive called “Friends Care for Their Friends” to send to the children of the ravaged city. The local YMCA facilitated the introduction to Sumaura Elementary School, a 110-year-old private K-6 school. As part of this cultural exchange arrangement, 6th grade students from Sumaura School along with their principal, Mr. Yamamoto, visit Portland in February each year. In June, Richmond 5th graders have home stays with families in the Kobe area and participate in the school’s annual music festival.
School webpage: http://www.sumaura.ed.jp
Cultural Exchange between Sumaura and Richmond: http://www.sumaura.ed.jp/international/international.html
In 2015, students traveled to the newly opened Himeji Castle and spent the day in Sasayama.
Nanto City – Fukuno Elementary
Fukuno Elementary is a public elementary school serving first through sixth grade. Former school administrator, Mr. Toru Saino, first came to Portland in 1989. Over the years, his connection with Portland made way for the cultural exchange between Richmond and Fukuno. Oya No Kai is grateful to its friend, Mr. Saino, who continues to coordinate this cultural exchange some 14 years later. Richmond 5th graders visit Nanto every June and in return, Mt. Tabor Middle School receives Fukuno 8th grade students from three Nanto junior high schools in late October.
Fukuno School webpage: http://www.tym.ed.jp/sc230/
Nanto City website: https://www.city.nanto.toyama.jp/webapps/www/english/welcome.html
Prior to arriving in Nanto, the students spend one night in Gokayama, a UNESCO world heritage site. Students made paper fans, Sasara (Japanese wooden instrument) and soba.
Numazu – Katoh School
Katoh School is a private K-12 school and the first school in Japan to offer English immersion. In 1992, Katoh staff contacted Portland Public Schools to request a tour of Richmond and to discuss its model program. In 1993, Richmond Principal Rene Ito-Staub and Japanese Resource teacher Deanne Balzer visited Katoh School and forged a lasting relationship between the two schools. The following year, Katoh School began sending teachers to Richmond to study the Japanese Immersion Program’s model. Today, students from Katoh school visit Portland every October, staying with host families from Richmond and the city of Beaverton, Oregon. In exchange, Richmond 5th graders are hosted by Katoh families in the summer.
School webpage: http://www.katoh-net.ac.jp/Elementary/
We will only send students to Numazu if we have over 55 students on the mainland trip.
In 2005, as part of a Portland delegation to the Sapporo Snow Festival, Richmond Principal Abby Myer visited Miyanomori School. She met with its principal, Mr. Hirata, about their plans to develop a 4th, 5th, and 6th grade English language program and agreed for Richmond to become its sister school. The first delegate of Richmond students went to Sapporo in 2010. Sapporo hosts 12 students in single homestays. While in Sapporo, students get to travel to Noboribetsu and Otaru.