After eight local students visited a school in Japan in March through Kwalikum Secondary School’s Japanese Language program, KSS is preparing to welcome Japanese students from that school this month.
But with 40 students coming from Aichi Keisei High School, KSS’s Japanese Language program is in need of more host families, said Japanese language teacher Brad Wilson.
The program has been going on for more than 20 years, with study tours to Japan taking place about every two years, he said.
For the last nine years, KSS has been building up a relationship with Aichi Keisei High School in Inazawa City, with 40-50 Japanese students from the school coming to visit KSS every May.
The trip to the Island comes after eight students (six from KSS, one from Ballenas Secondary and one from Wellington Secondary in Nanaimo) visited Japan in March.
While two-thirds of the trip was spent visiting important cultural and historic sites in Japan, the rest of the stay consisted of a school visit and homestay.
“The best change I see (in students), aside from language, is I see an increased confidence in them, because that homestay experience is an emotional challenge for them… and they are all still better for it,” said Wilson.
“When they come back, they’ve actually used some of the language in Japan. When we’re doing a lesson, ‘Oh, I’ve heard people use this,’ or ‘my homestay family used this,’ … One of the boys, for example, when he was in this homestay family, the mother said ‘refer to me as aunt,’ and then we come back and we’re doing a family unit, and one of the reasons why they (Japanese people) do that is she was actually telling him to be part of the family,” Wilson explained.
“She was telling him ‘I’m close to you because we now have this relationship.’ He didn’t sort of get that until we came back and then he made the connection with what he saw in his host family when he was there.”
Soon the cultural experience will be on the other foot, with the students who took the trip to Japan (and some from years past) serving as guides and providing a home for the visiting Japanese students.
As they are from an industrial area in Japan, seeing Vancouver Island’s nature and wildlife has traditionally been a great experience for previous travel groups, said Wilson. “They are sort of gobsmacked by it.”
While local students will be hosting some of the visiting students, more host families are needed from the evening of May 16 to the morning of May 20.
Hosts are asked to provide a bed or comfy foamy for a student, and to integrate the students into their family routine in the evenings and on the Saturday that they are there. KSS has activities for the students during the day on Thursday and Friday. Hosts would provide three meals a day, though no lunch is needed on the Thursday.
Host families are also paid an honorarium of $30 per student per day.
Those interested can contact Wilson via firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-240-3328.