Yes, we are still here. The news of our demise has been greatly exaggerated. It’s been a rough year both professionally and personally for me since the Kyoto Summer School, lots of changes. This post will catch everyone up to current as we approach this year’s April trip to Kyoto!
We recruited for this year’s trip first from students that have hosted Kyoto Students in the past few years. The trip filled in a few days (vs. weeks in past years). This recruitment was back in October. We’ve been doing all of our usual events; Christmas Party/Video Conference, the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Ages), a bunch of other video conferences, and next week a Skype session using all the computers in both of our labs, with the students rotating through the stations so they can talk to everyone.
Rob and Two Kyoto Students opening Christmas presents
We had 30 students signed up for this year’s trip. Unfortunately, in recent weeks we lost six students. The price of tickets has been steadily increasing since we opened up recruitment for the trip. Most of those who pulled out were waiting/hoping for the price to drop (which is hasn’t yet this year) or had changes in their economic situations. We are now set in with 23 paid students for this year’s trip. With only a month left, and a depressed economy in Kyoto as well as here in the US, we are going to stay with these 23 students. This will make it easier to place individuals in host families without pairing students up.
This past week we had a video conference where the Japanese students were teaching our students about Hiragana and Katakana, the two basic alphabets in Japan. We had two class periods set aside for this video conference.
Last Language Video Conference (Michiko far right)
This last video conference turned out to be an excellent activity, as the students really started to bond as a group, and several of the more shy students seemed to open up and started talking more. By the end of the video conference the students on both sides of the screen were much more at ease with each other, and chatting away. My Japanese teacher (far right in above picture) attended this meeting. She is giving two Japanese Culture and Survival Japanese classes this year. One was early in February and the other is schedule for later this month. She’s great with the students and the information she is sharing will prove useful for their trip to Kyoto.
We’ve added new destinations this year for our trip. We have also added another day to the trip to allow the students more time for their Independent study. This year we are not going during Spring break, but instead during the two weeks prior to Spring Break. One of the main purposes of our trip to Kyoto each year is to open the school. They start their school year during our visit. This year Spring Break is later than usual. We are coming back on a Friday this year, and they will have Spring Break the week after they return. This should help the students catch up to what they miss in their classes during the trip to Kyoto.
I will be keeping this blog up to date again as we move forward. I had to renew the subscription to WordPress to get access to the blog again. I am no longer with Modesto City Schools, but I am still involved with the program. I took a job just south of Modesto in Turlock, CA. I am the Director of Technology for California State University Stanislaus. There are many new opportunities there, and I am working on expanding the PacRimX program into the University (for both University and High School students). I am working on a variety of projects as part of a proposed partnership between the University and Kyoto Gakuen (High School and University). Nothing is finalized yet, but I should have news to report before our trip in April.
I am very pleased to report that John Scott from Downey High School (who ran half of the Summer School program last year) will again be heading up the program this summer with the help of Tim Vesey (also at Downey). Brad Cornwell, from Johansen, went to Japan the past two years and has been participating in the summer program for several years. He pulled out of the program this year. So the entire summer program will be run out of Downey High School this summer with a new and enhanced curriculum with many new activities. More news on that in future posts.
So keep an eye out here at the blog for lots of news in the coming months. We are on for an April Exchange to Kyoto, we do have a group of Kyoto students coming to Modesto for summer school this year, and there will be the usual October visit of all of the second year Kyoto students for one week.
We had a very bumpy transition from the Teen Grid to the Main Grid with this project. A lot of stuff and accounts got broken in the process. We are still trying to regroup from all the changes at Linden Lab, and the departure of so many who we have worked with in the past. This has motivated us to look for other platforms to supplement the program moving forward.
I will post more news as I can announce it over the next few months.