There was a buzz in the air as the Ichikawa Bus pulled up in front of the expectant John McGlashan College Buddy families and unloaded its nervous guests. A hush fell over the crowd as they slowly, hesitantly, approached the imposing group of 'boarders' who stood in solemn contemplation. As the foot stamping and shouting rang out, you could see a host of emotions flicker over the faces of the Ichikawa students; curiosity, surprise, nervous laughter, relief as it came to an end!
After the official welcome in the Chapel, students and families set off to begin their 2 week journey together.
The weather gods were certainly smiling down on us for the duration of the Ichikawa School Visit, not a drop of rain to be seen!
Week one flew by in a flurry of activities. ESOL Classes in the morning followed by a City Tour, a Drama Workshop run by Kimberley Fridd and a combined Buddy/PE class led by Tom Casey. Simon White hosted the John McGlashan College Elective on the Friday which was a visit to Quarantine Island to photograph objects which would inspire the shape of the clock they were to make in the afternoon woodwork class. A nice little memento to take home.
That weekend the students were treated to some quality family time exploring Dunedin landmarks and some were lucky enough to venture outside Dunedin including Wanaka, Queenstown and Naseby to name a few.
Week 2 was here before we knew it! ESOL classes in the morning followed by a combined St Hilda's Collegiate Maori Workshop taught by Nick Price, a combined St Hilda's Collegiate Music Workshop taught by Brad Martin and Debates delivered on Wednesday afternoon with the ESOL teachers. Their interesting topic choices included: ‘Money can buy happiness’, ‘Single sex schools provide a superior education’ and ‘There is no global warming’.
The two Japanese teachers, Mr Tsuzuki and Mr Suzuki, both attended several Maths and English classes and were impressed by the content and teaching methods. One teacher commented that the Statistics class he attended was superior to its equivalent in Japan.
With the end of the week looming you could see the confidence the students had gained during their time in Dunedin. There was positive feedback from several sources saying how friendly and conversational they were. We were getting glowing reports from the Host families.
Thursday morning the Ichikawa Students presented their electives to a group of Year 7’s in the link. Although nervous they managed to get through them very quickly and without incident and even managed to get a few laughs out of their audience.
The week finished with a Tour on the Otago Peninsula, where students got to see penguins and seals, rode in the argos and enjoyed the view. The seals were such a spectacular sight against the rawness of their natural habitat. Huge ribbons of kelp and seaweed tangling amongst the pools within the rock structures. The students stood and stared in wonder without speaking for quite some time.
Friday morning was the last day of ESOL for the Ichikawa Students and they spent the afternoon preparing for a beautiful farewell evening which was held at St Hilda's Collegiate Chapel. We got to enjoy some interesting and impressive presentations including a Karate, Kendo and Judo presentation, some lovely calligraphy writing, an ‘interactive with audience’ exercise routine which produced a few laughs and finished with a very beautiful farewell song, sung by all the Ichikawa students, piano played by one of the girls and conducted by another which was captivating!
It was heartwarming to see the bond between the buddies as they exchanged badges on stage. There were a few tears as the reality of departure set in, but most students were in high spirits as they left for their final meal with their ‘family’.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the families who opened up their homes and embraced the opportunity to give the students a taste of ‘Kiwi’ hospitality. Homestay for Ichikawa is such an integral part of the programme and would not be possible without you.