2018 TOMODACHI CIE Grassroots Summit: High School Students Form Nara Prefecture Attend the 28th Japan-American Grassroots Summit in Seattle and Washington
For eight days, from September 18 to 25, 2018, 15 students from Nara Unebi High School, along with three chaperones, joined the 28th Japan-America Grassroots Summit in Seattle and Washington, as part of the 2018 TOMODACHI CIE Grassroots Summit. Last year, students from Unebi High School hosted students from the Youth Commission of Macon-Bibb County (MBC), Georgia, during the 27th Japan-America Grassroots Summit 2017 in Nara.
This one-week Grassroots Exchange Program provided the Japanese students with an opportunity to learn about the history of U.S.-Japan exchange and the Japanese-American community by visiting sites in the area, such as the Japanese Cultural Community Center of Washington and the Nisei Veterans Center, in addition to attending the Japan-America Grassroots Summit. The students also experienced an exchange with students from Mount Vernon High School in the city of Mount Vernon in northwest Washington, where many immigrant workers live.
To prepare for this program, the students researched the history of Japanese-Americans in Seattle and U.S.-Japan exchange, using on the novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, during the summer vacation before the U.S. trip. The students verified their research by visiting the actual hotel and institution in the U.S., deepening their research through historical facts that could not be learned in Japan. At the opening ceremony for the Japan-American Grassroots Summit and at Mount Vernon High School, the students gave presentations on their research in English and received a great deal of praise.
The students also had an opportunity to visit and observe classes with host-students at Mount Vernon High School, and stayed with the host-students’ families. Through experiencing the daily life of an American high school student for two days, the students learned about the educational differences between Japan and the U.S., the importance of international exchange, and real American life. And the students from Unebi and Mount Vernon formed lifelong friendships.