We are honored to have a group of students, teachers and administrators visiting Modesto from Kyoto, Japan. They arrived last Thursday and are returning to Kyoto this Wednesday. There are over 300 students visiting Modesto, spending time with host families this weekend. Tomorrow there are assemblies planned at several of our high schools, and several nearby high schools in neighboring districts where the American and Japanese students will perform for each other.
Friday night we had a dinner with the core administrators involved in the PacRimX Project. Here are pictures from around the dinner table at the restaurant in Modesto:
Yasuaki Kuromiya (ICT Director) and Kohei Sasai (Vice Principal)
Chris Flesuras III (PacRimX Founder), Chris Flesuras II (Modesto Associate Superintendent Human Resources) and Kathy Soares (Modesto Teacher)
Kathy Soares (Modesto Teacher), Brad Cornwell (Modesto Teacher) and Rodney Owen (Director ROP, Funding PacRimX Project)
Brad and Kathy are the new teachers who have joined the project. They both bring two classes each to the Island. Brad has experience with computer programming and game design and has really taken to the LSL in Second Life, already scripting some new items for the island. The student population on the island is now up over 150, with another 20 – 30 due in about a month with the exchange program
We discussed the coming year on the island, what types of projects and activities we will plan between Kyoto and Modesto, and discussed the past year of the project (the challenges and successes). The two main topics of discussion were the Modesto exchange to Kyoto this April, and the three week summer school class in Modesto for Kyoto students next summer, and how those will tie in with the activities on the island.
Last night (Saturday, Oct 20th) Kyoto Gakuen hosted a formal dinner at an Asian Fusion restaurant in downtown Modesto. This restaurant had a stream running the length of the dining room, with a large waterfall in the middle. It was an appropriate setting for the celebration of the relationship between Kyoto Gakuen and the Modesto area schools (other neighboring districts also participate in the exchange program) that participate in the exchange program. There were many speeches and toasts throughout the night.
The principal of Kyoto Gakuen was not going to make the trip this year, as he was fighting cancer. We had a video conference scheduled between him, our new Superintendent, and Chris Flesuras II week before last. He unfortunately passed away two days before the planned video conference. He was remembered at this dinner last night for his long career with Kyoto Gakuen High School (he had been involved with the school since his childhood). There was also a toast in memory of one of their teachers who also lost a battle with cancer recently.
This was a wonderful night of good food, celebrating, sharing and conversation. The dinner ended last night with a group picture out on the back patio.
Group picture on back patio after the Kyoto Gakuen hosted dinner
This afternoon we have a BBQ at the Flesuras household. I hear that this is the big event of the annual Kyoto visit. It will be a much more casual setting, and I am looking forward to talking to many more people.