10 Saipan cultural exchange students return from Japan

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THE Saipan students who participated in the Sanpoen exchange program in Japan are back on island.

The students, who are from sixth to 12th grades, flew to Japan on Feb. 5 and stayed there for six days.

While in Japan, they met with Shiga Prefecture Gov. Taizo Mikazuki who encouraged them to attend the top universities of the Asian nation, said special assistant to the mayor Henry Hofschneider, one of the students’ chaperones.

Saipan students and their chaperones led by special assistant to the mayor Henry Hofschneider pose at Joyama Elementary School in Japan during a welcome party in their honor.

He said the vice governor of Kyoto Prefecture, Akimasa Yamashita, also met with the students.

Hofschneider said the most important thing the students learned in Japan was how they conduct themselves respectfully when meeting people from different cultures.

“For some students, it was their first time to be in Japan and to experience cold weather and see snow,” he added.

Besides Hofschneider, the students’ other chaperones were the mayor’s student exchange program coordinator Yuki Kishimoto, staffers Luise Villagomez, and Randy Johnson.

Shiga Prefecture officials led by Gov. Taizo Mikazuki pose with the visiting Saipan students and their chaperones.

In Japan, Hofschneider said the students experienced Japanese culture and saw how Japanese conducted themselves.

Kishimoto said they were in Kyoto for three nights, adding that they visited the governor’s office, the mayor’s office in Kyoto, the Kyoto Zoo, the Toei Kyoto Studio Park, the Izutsu Yatsuhashi pastry shop, and Aeon Mall.

The Sanpoen group, for its part, hosted a “welcome party” for the visitors from Saipan at the Otsu Municipal Culture Hall in Kyoto, Kishimoto said.

She added that the students then spent the next three days in Nagano where they stayed with their assigned host families.

The Saipan students with their host families in Kyoto, Japan.  Contributed photos

In Nagona, they visited Joyama Elementary School, the Zenkoji Temple, and the mayor’s office.

Kishimoto said Joyama Elementary School hosted a welcome party for the Saipan group at Hotel Shinanoji in Nagano.

“The sponsors were superb, and they took good care of our students,” Hofschneider said, adding that it was the 37th Japan trip organized and sponsored by the Sanpoen group.

In July, it will be Sanpoen’s turn to send Japanese students to Saipan.

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