On Thursday November 13th, students and staff from Kamokita Senior High School, Hiroshima, Japan, visited Whitley Academy for the day.
The visit was to celebrate the link established between the two schools, affirming the commitment of both schools and cities to the promotion of ‘peace and reconciliation’, following the terrible bombings during the Second World War.
Divya and Eliana, Whitley Academy students aged 12 and 13, share their story...
At the start of the day it was cloudy, windy but luckily not rainy!
10:30am - The 43 students from Kamokita Senior High School arrived. Their arrival was earlier than planned as Miss Yuyu explained to us that the traffic was not as bad as they expected when they got out of London.
The Kamokita students got off the big coach and went into the Auditorium. We were nervous as this was the first time we had met together.
55 students of our year 9 students arrived at the Auditorium early and found their own seats. You could see that all students were shy and reluctant to start conversations. Mrs Nguyen (our teacher) encouraged all students to move around and talk to each other. It was a slow start but then some home students managed to mingle with their new Japanese friends.
11:15am - Mr Steinhaus brought the Lord Mayor of Coventry into the Auditorium and introduced her to us. She is actually Councillor Hazel Noonan representing the Whitley area! She started by congratulating us for our first steps to strengthen our international school links. She also talked about her role as the Lord Mayor (for one year) and some popular places that students could go to visit in Coventry if they had time. A lot of us asked her questions such as how she had become the Lord Mayor, and she explained to us that to become a Lord Mayor you need to become a councillor first and you need to serve the longest time. She also told us that she came to Whitley Academy when it first moved into the new buildings in October 2000, and her son also attended our school!
Then Mr Purslow (our Director of Modern Foreign Languages) gave a speech about the importance of all the happenings of the day. William and Taylor of 7C were brave enough to talk to the audience in …. Japanese! Of course you could figure out right away what they wanted to tell our Japanese friends (Hello my name is William and welcome to Whitley Academy. We are your friends). How brave the boys were!
We could not wait to get the ball rolling!
11:50am - The Kamokita students gave a presentation about their school and Hiroshima, their home city. We learned that there were rice fields around Kamokita School. How amazing! Morgan of 7A was lucky enough to try a maple-leaf shaped biscuit from Miss Yuyu! Morgan said that it was delicious.
Then we were shown a big photo of the building in Hiroshima where the first atomic bomb was dropped.
After that we all waited in anticipation whilst the Japanese students laid out some old newspapers before we all could enjoy some Japanese calligraphy. We again sat in different groups at the front of the auditorium alongside our new Kamokita friends. They had prepared everything well ahead, including the black ink, the special paper and cards for us to practise writing. We were amazed to witness the way how they used the wooden pens in black ink and wrote their names so well in Japanese! The Japanese alphabet is completely different from the Latin one. How amazing!
Then our Kamokita students showed us how to write our names in Japanese style. We all loved it! Our teachers were worried in case the black ink was dropped on our nice and new carpet! The Japanese students then gave us our name cards as presents. This is classed as a sentimental gift and will be treasured for years to come.
After clearing up the calligraphy ink and brushes everyone went to have their lunch.
The 43 Kamokita students stayed in the auditorium with our school buffet lunch while the Whitley Academy students went to the canteen for their normal lunch.
Mrs Nguyen started the afternoon by informing us of the two dances coming up: the African one (by our students) and the Yosakoi by the Kamokita students.
Whilst she was talking Mr Purslow approached her side and gave her a flower bouquet thanking her for all the hard work she put in for the day.
The African dance was amazing with lots of drum beats. Then the Kamokita students did their Yosakoi dance and it was spectacular! It was full of colours, especially black and red! We all clapped very loud! Wow! Such great dances!
1:30pm It was time for the British Cultural quiz. It was prepared by Catherine, Georgina and Chloe of year 10.
As the quiz started the Kamokita students were a bit shy but as the quiz went along they became more comfortable. In fact, nearly all of the questions were answered by our guest friends. It was so nice see many of us started talking to our new Kamokita friends…
Right after the quiz, the Japanese students brought out their origami paper and started helping us to make different types of origami. We glued the cranes on a piece of card and gave it to our friends as presents.
Shortly afterwards, Mrs Allen (our Principal) talked to the audience and wished our guest friends and teachers a safe journey back to Japan.
Later on, we found out that our new friends arrived in London on Tuesday 11th November and came to our school on Thursday 13 November and they would depart for Heathrow airport the following day – Friday 14 November!!!!
Before Mrs Allen left the room, the Kamokita High School Headteacher and teachers gave Whitley Academy a massive banner written by specialist calligraphers in Japan. It was about the motto of the Kamokita School. How wonderful!
Before we headed to Coventry city centre, we gave the guest students a quick tour of our school and they seemed very fascinated.
We then headed out to the front of the school and split up. The guest students went to their coach (which was parked outside the school gate) to town and we went by our very nice mini-buses.
When we met them in town we headed straight for the Cathedral, the old Cathedral ruins, the Godiva statue, Priory Gardens, the Transport Museum and finally we walked back to the buses and said goodbye. A lot of people made friends really quickly and were sad when it was time to say goodbye. The Kamokita students took selfies with their new friends from Whitley Academy. While we were walking to the mini-buses the Kamokita students gave us some more Japanese biscuits. They had different flavours in each one. The sweet taste of the biscuits resembled the nice memories we had with our new friends throughout the day.
Bye for now; and hopefully, we will meet some of our new friends in March next year….