Kyoto Exchange Summer School

Well, there were no outbreaks of any contagious diseases this year like last (Swine Flu delayed last year’s summer school by eight months). So this year’s students will be arriving in Modesto from Kyoto on July 2nd. Just in time to experience the 4th of July holiday in America.

This year we have some great field trips planned. First up on the itinerary is a trip to San Francisco.  We will do the traditional walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, with a photo opportunity on the south side with the whole class.  We’re then planning on spending time in and around the Presidio area of SF.  There’s lots to see here, and plenty of places for the Japanese students to shop.  If there’s time we will go to a few other sites in the City.

The second field trip for the summer school class is to Discovery Kingdom (Marine World).

This is a great amusement park just east of the San Francisco Bay Area that combines thrill rides with an animal park. Just like Sea World in San Diego, there are dolphin and whale shows along with tigers, elephants, giraffes, and other wildlife from around the world. Here the students can ride rides, eat and hang out with their teams and Modesto partners. There are many opportunities for a wide range of video and photography at this park.

And last but not least, Yosemite. This is a shot from the tunnel view this past October when we had the entire second year class from Kyoto Gakuen visiting Modesto for a week exchange.

This year the group of students is too large to be housed at just one school campus, as in the past. The computer labs are not large enough. So this year we’ve split the students between two of our high schools, Johansen and Downey. Brad Cornwell will be teaching the traditional video production class at Johansen. And John Scott will be doing a similar class at Downey with a new Mac lab focused on digital still photography. His class will have a journalism bend to it. His group of students will go out to the Stanislaus County Fair one day and interview Modesto City School students who are out showing animals they have raised.

We are also planning on taking the whole group of students on the usual trip to City Hall to meet the mayor and other officials, the fire station and police stations. This is always a big hit. The students all get certificates from both the city and county. They also get to climb on the fire trucks, sit in the police cars, and talk with the officers.

The weather so far this year has been milder than past summers. There is still a lot of snow up in the Sierras. The waterfalls should be running strong at Yosemite. Overall, the three week summer school should go really well. And with the students being spread across two campuses, the classrooms will not be overcrowded.

The students take pictures and video of all of their field trips and compile them into DVD’s to take home from their stay in California. Students are paired up with Modesto students and they work in teams to produce the DVD’s. This year they will also be making T-Shirts and id badges at Downey. One of the main goals of this exchange is to give the Kyoto students opportunities to use their English language skills, and to learn about the culture of America.

As soon as this exchange is over planning will start for the October one week exchange to Modesto by the entire second year class from Kyoto Gakuen, and all their teachers. This program has truly turned into a year round effort between the two school districts.

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