Japanese Students Visit Largo Schools
by Sandi Fahy
photo by SANDI FAHY
LARGO - It was a whirlwind visit for the 14 students from Japan who arrived in Largo early last week. On Monday, October 29, Largo Middle School welcomed the ten middle school students in the group to its campus, while the four high school students spent the day at Largo High. They all attended a reception in their honor that evening. The following day, the Japanese students toured the city, visiting the Largo Police Department, Largo Fire & Rescue, Largo Central Park and Largo Public Library. A meeting with the mayor and city commissioners was also on the agenda. On Wednesday, the students returned to their host schools for a day of presentations on life in Japan. They were also invited to participate in the school's Halloween Dance later in the day. Walt Disney World was their destination on Thursday. The next two days were spent with their host families. On Sunday, the middle school students said goodbye and headed back to Japan. The high school students would be staying for another week.
Kentaro Ishikawa, Sho Okamoto, Mana Miyaji and Yuri Fukudome were among the middle school students who came to America. The morning of October 31, the four could be found in Largo Middle School sixth grade geography teacher Barbara Koroknay's classroom, where they were scheduled to give presentations. Each had prepared a poster with photographs of family members, their home and country. They were accompanied by Odochi Junior High School prinicipal Yasutada Yamashita and Kagamino Junior High School assistant principal Yuko Takezaki. Mana, 14, is captain of her basketball team back home. When asked what she liked best about America during a question and answer session, she thought for a moment and then replied, "The food." During his presentation, Kentaro talked about the various foods (such as sushi and tempura) consumed in his country. Yuri showed a picture of the Hachiohzi Shinto Shrine. Shinto and Buddhism are the main religions there. Sho had a poster featuring photos of his hometown. The students, in answer to questions about their customs, explained kimonos were worn only for weddings or other formal occasions and said, yes, they ate rice at every meal. They also said they enjoyed anime and Harry Potter books.
The students were here as part of a sister city program started nearly 40 years ago by the Largo Lions Club. High school students have been regular visitors to this area since its inception in 1969. This was the first year middle school students made the trip. While here, they were guests of the parents of Largo Middle students.
Mana Miyaji talks about life in Japan
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