For nearly thirty years, Port Lincoln High School students have enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to be involved in a cultural exchange program with the Japanese city of Muroto, as part of the long-standing friendship agreement between the two cities. Unfortunately, the impact of coronavirus resulted in this year’s (April and August) delegation visits being cancelled; this led to great disappointment for many students and community members.
In an effort to maintain our strong connection with the Muroto community – and to provide language students at PLHS and Muroto High School with an opportunity to practice their communication and intercultural skills – the decision was made to explore alternative ways of interacting. This began with an exchange of written emails, sharing individual details in both Japanese and English, as well as cultural information (such as what food the students had in their lunch/obento boxes). The next (ambitious) step was to connect the students in both countries using online video communication through Zoom.
Earlier this week, our Year 9 Japanese class attempted our first Zoom session. My students had the chance to ask questions and share information using spoken Japanese, with the Muroto High School students practicing their English. Despite a few technical issues, contact was made and the experience was thoroughly enjoyed by both classes. It was wonderful to see students from opposite sides of the globe laughing and communicating with each other.
We look forward to further developing this connection between students into next year, and hopefully for years to come.
~ Mrs Tanya Booker (Japanese teacher)