13 February 2024 at 10:30 am

Kiwi students attend Tokyo Experience School

Each year, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education (Tokyo MBoE) hosts secondary students from around the world at the Tokyo Experience School. Late last year, four students and one chaperone from Rangiora High School were selected to join other international students in Tokyo, immersing themselves in Japanese culture and secondary school life.  

Group at Noh Theatre

Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) supports a range of international exchange programmes that, as well as attracting international students to New Zealand, also provide New Zealand students with the opportunity to have their own international education experiences overseas. These offer unique cross-cultural learning opportunities that develop our global citizens, serve to plant the seed for future overseas education experiences in our learners, while also promoting New Zealand’s education system on a global level.  

One such programme is that organised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education (Tokyo MBoE), an Education Cooperation Partner of ENZ since 2017. The programme fosters education exchanges between New Zealand and Tokyo and each year, the Tokyo MBoE invites students to attend the Tokyo Experience School through an application process, promoted to secondary schools by ENZ. In 2023, Rangiora High School was selected by the Tokyo MBoE to send four students and one chaperone to Tokyo, joining other students from around the world for ten days in December.  

Lachlan Palmer, SeungWoo Jeong, Ariana Ferguson and Oliver Burns are all studying Japanese at Rangiora High School, and were the fortunate students selected to attend on behalf of their school. The four students were accompanied by their school’s Teacher in Charge of Japanese, Jessica Bradley. 

The experience proved to be a true immersion in Japanese culture and student life for the Rangiora High School Year 11-13 students with the students staying with local host families, travelling to school in rush hour, attending class and joining club activities such as chalk art, judo classes, and rugby training. The experience also gave students the opportunity to take part in several traditional experiences such as getting dressed in a kimono and attending Sado (tea ceremony). 

All four students said that this Japanese exchange trip was one of the most interesting and valuable experiences they had every done and couldn’t wait to go back. 

Lachlan said “The real highlight of this trip was with my host family and my time at school there. Seeing the differences and similarities between Japan and New Zealand in person allowed me to enjoy and learn about Japan in a way like no other and gave me the chance to share my own culture from New Zealand. It is safe to say I will be returning as soon as I can”.  

One of Ariana’s favourite moments of the whole experience was trying on the kimono. She said "it was amazing to experience what it was like to wear, walk and feel in a Kimono and it is something I will never forget. I also loved meeting students in my class and not only learning about their likes/dislikes but sharing mine too and a New Zealand culture with them. They were so kind and welcoming, and I honestly can't wait to go back!” 

Ariana Ferguson with her travel companions; Lachlan Palmer, SeungWoo Jeong, and Oliver Burns, trying on traditional Japanese dress.

Lachlan Palmer and SeungWoo Jeong, tried Judo with their host brothers.

SeungWoo enjoyed experiencing in person the culture that he has been learning so much about at school. He said “my host brother and I went to several famous places in Japan such as Tokyo Tower, Skytree, Akihabara, Shinjuku, and Shibuya. However, I believe that the highlight of the trip was being able to experience the Japanese food my host family made for us, and the amazing experiences my host brother and I have experienced such as karaoke.’ 

Lastly, Oliver noted how interesting it was attending a Japanese school and some of the differences. He said “there was a lot of school spirit, much more so than my home high school, and I loved how much the student body supported each other. My favourite parts of school were the friends I made in class (and the bento lunches!). 

ENZ will continue working with Tokyo MBoE on cross cultural education opportunities. If Tokyo MBoE continue the Tokyo Experience School, ENZ will share the EOI with New Zealand schools when it is available, usually around September. 

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