Two schools from different nations celebrate unity

By: Michael Hanson

Students and faculty from Moanalua High School (MHS) celebrated their decade-old exchange program with their sister school, Kokutaiji High School from Hiroshima, Japan. The day was filled with relationship-building activities and games.

"With all of the things that are happening in the world today, we really feel it is important for the students to learn from other cultures," said Cindy Wong, MHS Learning Center Coordinator. "We are already multi-ethnic, multi-cultured here, but it's good for them to see, in person, something that is very different."

At one point, more than two-hundred Japanese students gathered on the school's football field to perform a group dance for their Hawaiian hosts. The MHS students soon joined them on the field, where they learned the steps themselves. This activity fell under the general theme of the event-to learn the ways another culture.

"We learn from each other, said Principal Darrel Galera."I've had the great privilege of going out to Kokutaiji High School and learning about their practices, and our teachers have done the same thing."

The MHS students look forward to meeting their Japanese visitors every year. Senior student Yu Igarashi states, "I'm pretty sure most schools don't get the chance to experience different students from another school in a different world."

In a place as ethnically and culturally diverse as Hawaii, this exchange program bridges the gap between two isolated cultures.

"We try to bring them all together so they can understand what cultural identity is and how they can learn how to be friends," said Wong.

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