Bridging the Gap: Cultural Exchange in Lower School

As part of a language immersion and cultural exchange experience, Harrisburg Academy hosted two Japanese students, Hime and Ohji, for three weeks in October.  The students, a brother and sister, and their family are friends of Academy teacher Mrs. Mari Bender, whose own children have participated in a similar arrangement in Japanese schools. Hime joined Mrs. Mahaffey’s 1st grade class and Ohji felt right at home in Mrs. Sherman’s 4th grade class.

While Hime and Ohji participated in academic classes at their level, the major goal of their trip was to provide language immersion opportunities.  Not only did this strengthen their own use of English, it provided Academy students an opportunity for in-depth cultural exchange.  As their host and acting guardian, Mrs. Bender monitored their academic and social experiences and provided support when needed.

One of our goals at the Academy is to provide our students with experiences that will foster their understanding of the world in which they live.  We strive to help our students both belong and contribute to this global community.  We are very pleased that both Hime and Ohji and Academy students benefited from the opportunity to exchange customs and ideas from their respective cultures. This was especially true in our 2nd grade class, who had the opportunity to interact with both Hime and Ohji as part of the 2nd grade “Learning Links” connection with Asia.

Students and teachers alike enjoyed hosting Hime and Ohji and worked hard to make their visit an enjoyable and productive one.  Hime and Ohji made quite an impression both from an academic perspective and, clearly, from a personal perspective.

Sara B. ’22 on her language immersion trip to the Seishin Elementary School in Okayama, Japan.