I feel very privileged to be one of only five people to be chosen to participate in the first Millais/Rikkyo exchange, and hope the programme continues for many years to come. I was very nervous about going but I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received from both staff and students at the Rikkyo School.
Everyone was so friendly and made us feel very at ease, despite how nervous we were. For the rest of the first day we had an opportunity to get to know our exchanges which made everyone a lot less nervous!
We all found the poetry card game really interesting as we have no English equivalent. We were really impressed by how well they knew their poetry!
On Sunday we had the opportunity to watch a tea ceremony and dress in kinomons. It was so much fun and it was really interesting to learn about Japanese traditions and customs. I really enjoyed the singing competition and we found it really hard to choose a winner for the “Millais prize” as they were all so good! Homeroom was very interesting as we don’t have that at our school, although I couldn’t really understand what the teacher was saying!
On Monday and Tuesday we shadowed our exchanges. I was a bit nervous about this, particularly because the first lesson was maths! I enjoyed seeing how their lessons differed from mine and was amazed by how good their English was during the E.C. classes. I learnt a lot about their school and was surprised to find that their science lessons are taught in English and Japanese. My exchange taught me a lot of new vocabulary during her lessons and how to write the kanji which will be really helpful during my exams. The lesson that interested me most was the Japanese lessons as it was just like my English lessons but obviously using Japanese literature. The teacher involved me in the class by asking me to read from the book and my exchange was very helpful by translating the kanji into hiragana so I could read it! The class was very patient and even clapped once I had finished!
On Tuesday evening we watched a Japanese DVD (Totoro). We all loved it and thought it was really cute! On Wednesday and Friday morning we helped in the English drama classes, which was really fun. We got to speak with the students and I even got to practise some Japanese! Again, we were very impressed by their level of English. On Wednesday afternoon we learnt how to cook miso soup and onigiri. It was quite difficult to make the onigiri and the rice kept sticking to my hands but it all tasted really nice!
On Wednesday and Thursday evening we gave a talk on the differences between our schools, once in English and once in Japanese. It was quite scary but they all seemed to find it interesting and asked lots of questions. We were surprised by just how many differences there were! On Thursday morning we did a Japanese questionnaire with some primary and middle school classes. It was great to be able to get to know some more of the students and again everyone was very friendly and helped me with my Japanese. The Japanese lesson with Miss Yamaguchi was really helpful as she taught us some useful phrases that we can use if we ever get to go to Japan.
On Thursday and Friday we tried some Japanese sports. Kendo was really good as we learnt a lot about the sport and some related vocabulary. We all had a go but felt guilty for hitting the student with the sword; even though we were reassured it didn’t hurt! Budo was also fun as we learnt self defence and about Japanese martial arts. Our last evening was spent doing calligraphy and origami, both of which were quite tricky and weren’t nearly as good as the examples done by students. However, I still enjoyed myself.
Our last day was spent taking lots of pictures and playing a game of dodgeball organised by the middle school classes. We were a bit hesitant at first but with some encouragement we were soon enjoying ourselves!
We were really sad when we had to leave and miss our exchanges lots, but have come away with some amazing memories and hopefully some new friends! I am really grateful to the Rikkyo School for having us and will do all I can to make sure their stay with us is just as enjoyable. You made us a part of your community and for that we are truly grateful.