A welcome return after four years

Thursday 28th March 2024

We were delighted to welcome 35 students and 2 staff from Ichikawa Gakuen for the first time since 2019.

Our relationship with Ichikawa Gakuen first began in 1998 and although this year was only a short stay for our guests, the deep connection between the schools is still clearly evident.  

Ichikawa were piped into to a stirring welcome in the Chapel from our kapa haka group and then matched with their host families for the eight night stay.  

Each morning of their four days in school started with ESOL class in the Edgar Learning Centre, with their able teachers, Stacey Hemi and Mandy Dillon.  The afternoons bought a tour of the city, a museum visit, PE class with Mr Kotkamp and Mr Hore and an opportunity for the Ichikawa boys to talk about various aspects of Japanese culture with Mrs Smith and Mr Paul's Integrated Studies classes.  Japanese baseball proved to be a popular topic here!  Whilst the students were in classes Mr Watanuki also visited some maths classes as well - the language of maths is universal evidently.

The long weekend saw students disappear all over Otago and Southland, experiencing many different aspects of New Zealand life.  Ichikawa students delightedly reported back about the adventures campervaning, jet boating, BBQing, motorbiking, mountain biking, bungy jumping and simply talking and connecting with their host-families.

The farewell on Monday seemed to arrive too quickly and any chance of sadness setting in was quickly replaced with laughter as Mr Garry presented Mr Watanuki with a pool noodle "trophy" for his participation in the Otago Anniversary weekend swim meet for 50m breaststroke and 200m backstroke.

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 is such an integral part of this relationship and would not be possible without you.  A sincere thank you also to Carla Joint at St Hilda's Collegiate School, where the girls were hosted.

We are already looking forward to next year's visit!