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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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WISP academy welcomes Japanese exchange students

On October 16, about 100 Japanese exchange students stepped foot into Jackson-Reed. They came to the nation’s capital and had the opportunity to experience the average day of an American high school student. Upon arrival, they were thrown directly into the chaos and excitement of a Jackson-Reed school day. As they filed into school that morning, the Japanese students were seen sitting on the atrium steps, wearing a traditional Japanese student uniform as they gazed up at the atrium ceiling. Students surrounding the atrium watched with raised eyebrows and a curiosity surrounding who these people were and why they were there.

This was not the first time that students from this school in Japan came to visit Jackson-Reed, so when Robert Geremia, WISP academy head, received an email asking if they could visit again, he wasn’t surprised. 

The Japanese students were divided into different groups who would attend different classes, ranging from Student Government to Spanish. Walking into our Student Government class, one Japanese student sat at each table and we were prompted with questions to ask them. After failing to talk to them in English due to the language barrier, we ended up using Google Translate to ask them questions: How long are you here for? How is your experience at school different from our experiences? What are some of your hobbies? The students seemed extremely excited to be there and we were equally excited to compare our different lives both inside and outside of school.

Following the morning class periods, the exchange students poured into the atrium, attracting more curious JR students to the already crowded atrium as they got ready to perform their dance. As they prepared, both Jackson-Reed and Japanese students alike were eager to mingle and exchange social media. Soon after, the dance began. As music played, the Japanese students performed their choreography as a crowd of Jackson-Reed students formed and cheered them on. 

After lunch, the students continued going to classes until the beginning of fourth period when Geremia’s AP US History class met them in the auditorium. The students were once again divided into groups with questions they were encouraged to ask. Throughout this experience, we were able to learn all about how their lives vary from ours. A culture shock came quickly as the Japanese exchange students learned about the American norm of ear piercings and dyed hair. They were taken aback by the array of piercings and hair colors they saw throughout their school day. We also learned that though they are the same age as us, they had to decide what they were going to study for the rest of their life a year ago. We can’t even imagine this as both of us get stressed out trying to decide what classes we want to take next year, nevertheless what we want to major in.

Overall, getting to meet students from a different place with lives completely different from ours was a very interesting and enlightening experience. Hopefully, Jackson-Reed can continue to form connections with other schools around the world and we can have more exchange students visit in the future.

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Willa Marks, Junior Editor
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