BMHS PrideTime Reporter
On Monday, Dec. 11th, twenty-six CGS students, along with their guardians, met up for the study tour seminar after school. There, they discussed the details for the December Japan trip.
What is the Kakehashi Project?
In the thick, about ten-paged packet our CGS kids received, the project is described as a “people-to people” exchange program, called the “Japan’s Friendship Ties Program” and done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (JICE) “to improve Japan’s image in the North American regions.” It is an eight day study tour where the kids will attend lectures and workshops, visit historical landmarks, experience a homestay and finally, conduct a presentation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. CGS will also be joined by another school from Seattle.
PrideTime reporter interviewed Mrs. Parham, director of CGS, for more information on the trip:
Jennifer: How was CGS chosen?
Mrs. Parham: “Last spring, when Keiko-sensei took her students to the Japan Bowl, three of those students were selected and invited through the Kakehashi Project to go to Japan over the summer. Two of them were able to go, so they spent several weeks there over the summer, free of charge. Great trip. It was very exciting. And...in the fall, Arisa Wada, who works for JICE, contacted us and said; well since we had sent some students over the summer, would we be interested in hosting students. And we said, well of course we will always host students. So they asked if they could send 26 students in February, and we said, "Of course, that would be great!" But then that was in our initial meeting, so she came a few months later with another representative and they saw the school and we talked about what the exchange would look like and then in the middle of that conversation, Keiko-sensei very boldly said, "well, we only sent a few students over the summer. Is there an opportunity for us to send a larger group of students?" And Arisa Wada was very surprised and said; "You haven't sent a whole school?" And we said, "well no, just two students." And she said, "well I'll look into that." And then about three weeks later we got a call that said do you want to send 25 students, people to Japan free of charge? You can either go in February (which is when our Kojo students come so we're like hm no that's not gonna work. Or in six weeks, in December. And we said, "we'll do it!"
Jennifer: What teachers are going?
Mrs. Parham: “Oh! Yeah so, this is a crazy group of teachers. So we've got Keiko-sensei, Mrs. Lovro(who's a Chinese teacher), and then Ms. Swain(who's an art teacher). So she's the head of the art department, she teaches IB art, and she does some other cool things too. She's gone on, not with McMahon but she's actually gone on study tours to Russia, with students before. Which is really awesome. And she's traveled all over Asia except for Japan.”
Jennifer: Why is she going on this trip?
Mrs. Parham: “Well, so we had to find chaperones last minute right? So we were all ah! What are we doing! Then Sean-sensei was having a baby so he couldn't go. And we're like okay, so let's see how we can get creative? So we invited Mrs. Lovro because she's teaching World Language seminar which is a ninth grade class that's new, so it's all about cultures of China, Japan, and the Middle East.. And she's like "I've never been to Japan." And like let's send you! And she's like, "that's awesome!" But also, Keiko and Mrs. Lovro are also IB teachers and so I thought it would be really cool if we could get, Ms. Swain, Mrs. Lovro and Keiko-sensei to kind of work on some interdisciplinary projects together. And this is a good opportunity for them to like, have some common ground.”
Jennifer: How are most study tours funded?/Who:
Mrs. Parham: “So we set a price tag for every trip and we try to keep it. Right now, our kind of standard price is 2500 dollars for a trip. And if you are to compare that to like EF tours or something like that, the standard price for those are closer to 4000-4500 dollars. They don't get much cheaper than that. So we really, through the host families and some budget travel stuff, we really keep the price down. And CGS pays for the chaperones, so we ask students who can afford to pay the whole 2500 to pay it. If anybody can't, then we fund it through school based budgeting. So Norwalk helps pay for some of it, we get grants from certain foundations. We get grants from private individuals make donations, the PTO helps. A lot of people who have either worked at CGS or been in CGS will make donations that go to study tours. So we get a lot of money to help pay for trips.”
Jennifer: What is the reason CGS encourages students to go on study tours?
Mrs. Parham: “Well it's foundational to our mission. But you know, this idea of being globally minded I think is, it's always been important to CGS. And I think the reasons why it's been important to CGS has changed over the years. But I think right now being globally minded is becoming a political statement, and I feel really strongly about it. You know when we travel, we're sending a message that we're not happy just knowing ourselves and that we value the voices and opinions of other people in part of the world and that we're not always right, and we can learn things. One more reason why we go is because you can't learn about yourself until you see what you're not. If that makes sense. You know what seems common sense to us is a lot of times, it's culturally based. But you can't see that until you experience something where your common sense isn't common sense.”
Center for Global Studies (CGS), McMahon’s magnet program, has been getting everything ready for the Japan study tour that will take place Dec. 17th until Dec. 25th. They are all prepared for an amazing, free trip to Japan to learn new things/experience a different lifestyle.