This week, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School hosted 10 students and two faculty from Asahigaoka High School in Sapporo, Japan, in the second half of an exchange that began last summer with HIES Upper School students visiting Japan—the continuation of a sister-school relationship that began in 2003.
The Japanese students stayed at the homes of their HIES hosts and attended classes with them on Monday, Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they toured CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, The Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Atlanta History Center (including the Cyclorama experience) and enjoyed lunch at the Varsity.
On campus, each Asahigaoka student made a presentation in an Upper School class. Akari Honda, hosted by Paddy Smith ’21, spoke about New Year’s Day in Japan, a celebration that includes TV specials with musicians and comedians, elaborate meals and a visit to the local shrine to pray for a good new year. Many people also send handmade greeting cards and postcards.
On Friday, all of the students went to Dr. Chris Swann’s English class to discuss “The Blue Eyes” by Isak Dinesen. The Asahigaoka students received the story and discussion questions in advance to be able to prepare for the class. They split into small groups with HIES students to review the setting, characters, plot, theme and symbols of the story.
“I really enjoyed having the students come to my classes,” Claudia De Fino ’20 said. “It’s been a good time and very busy.”
“My favorite part was getting to spend time together and bonding,” Sophie Swanson ’20 said, who hosted Miyu Kojima from Asahigaoka. Miyu said she liked eating American food and riding in Sophie’s car. She said Sophie is a very good driver. Sophie highly recommended participating in the exchange program. “It’s an opportunity you won’t get again,” she said.
At the all-school Eucharist held on Thursday, Jan. 9, all of the Japanese students introduced themselves and performed their school hymn.
Tomoko “TC” Inage, teacher from Asahigaoka, said she has enjoyed everything about their visit to Atlanta and Holy Innocents’. “It’s gone by so quickly, but it has been wonderful,” she said.
Thank you to the HIES students and families who hosted the visiting students: Caroline Berkey ’21, Whit Close ’21, Claudia De Fino ’20, Ansley Diaz ’20, Iris Kase ’21, Lindsay Little ’22, Andie Miles ’20, Paddy Smith ’21, Sophie Swanson ’20 and Miller Taylor ’20.
Asahigaoka High School has 960 students and 80 faculty/staff. It is at the top of the rankings of more than 50 high schools in Sapporo, Japan. HIES and Asahigaoka were united as sister schools in 2003. The next exchange will take place in the 2021-2022 school year.
— Christina Mimms