Warriors for a week


courtesy of the Japanese class

apanese exchange students from Kochi Minami High School visited NC’s Japanese language class. Families hosted the exchange students in their homes for one week, showing them around NC and Atlanta. As the exciting week came to a sad end, all students who participated will never forget the everlasting friendships and memories made on the trip.

Nati Duron and Rachel Maxwell

Traveling to the United States, Japanese exchange students from Kochi Minami High School visited NC  students currently studying the Japanese language. Greeted with warm hugs and smiles, students felt excited to experience the trip of a lifetime. The Japanese class students opened their homes to 12 female students from Japan, ages 14 to 17. The class planned events for each day they stayed, making sure to keep the visitors entertained and satisfied.

“It was one of the best moments I have ever witnessed at NCHS. It was planned and managed by students with parental help to have fun with the exchange students. The exchange students left on Sunday with good memories of the time spent with NCHS students. It is very exciting for both schools’ students to reunite on different soil next year. I hope everything will go well for this to become true,” NC Japanese teacher Shizuki Yamamoto said.

A welcome ceremony, attended and organized by the involved students as well as Principal Moody and county directors, began the memorable week on Monday, March 11. Principal Moody started the morning with a grateful speech, welcoming the students. The students toured NC, learning about the classes and watching NC scholars at work. Each visitor received a traditional NC shirt as a token to remember the trip.

courtesy of the Japanese classes
The NC Japanese class greeted the students from Japan with warm embraces. Each visitor learned about classmates, met their host families and prepared for a remarkable week. After the ceremony, the visitors walked with their hosts, following them to class and watching their daily routine.

The next event took place in the culinary arts room on Tuesday, March 12. Students made cherry cheesecakes and apple pies and ate their sweets together in the courtyard. Tasting American foods became a major influence that made the trip special.

courtesy of the Japanese classes
Finally getting to know each other, Japanese students and NC students worked together to bake three cherry cheesecakes and three apple pies. As they sat down in the courtyard to eat, take pictures, and further get to know one another, the beginning of a special friendship bloomed.

The Japanese class at NC learned about the exchange student’s everyday life in Kochi, Japan on Wednesday, March 13. The exchange students presented a slideshow with videos and pictures showing their school life, traditional meals, and festivals. They held activities such as chopstick challenges, anime quizzes, karuta (a traditional Japanese card game), calligraphy crafts, and a watermelon smashing game.

In the orchestra room, the class ended the week with a bang with a carnival on Thursday, March 14. Festivities like musical chairs, pinata smashing, Jenga, dancing, and serving classic American food occurred during 4th period. Here, Japanese students and their hosts came on stage to present a small speech about their experiences.

Rachel Maxwell
To end the spectacular week, all the involved students celebrated with a party in the orchestra room. Pinata smashing broke out, as well as a dance-off. The Japanese exchange students received a glimpse of American games, food, and dance culture.

The last day of their trip, head student director Jessica Campos, who hosted Momoka Okabayashi, spoke to all of the students on Friday, March 15. Campos expressed how thankful she felt and how the visit enlightened her semester. Principal Moody also spoke about how the exchange students could come back and visit anytime.

Meeting them and living with Momoka was an unforgettable experience. I made not only an everlasting friendship but a tight bond with someone who is just as passionate about learning English as I am with Japanese. She taught me things that I would’ve never learned on my own and has shown me that even if we’re two completely different people with an awkward language barrier, we can still bond over anything and still get very close. I will never forget the memories and experiences we shared together,” Campos said.

The weekend consisted of goodbye celebrations and sad tears as the journey came to an end. Although some of NC’s Japanese students will visit Kochi Minami High School next year, they will hold onto these unforgettable memories made during the week for a lifetime. Both classes will count the days until they reunite and celebrate their lifelong friendships.

From singing along to the songs on the radio in long car rides to introducing to [them] American culture, these few days have definitely impacted my life. I could never thank [them] enough for an unforgettable experience and an amazing new best friend,” Campos said.