We just wrapped up another successful year of Global Classmates! We reached a major milestone of connecting over 10,000 high school students in the United States and Japan since the inception of our virtual exchange program in 2012!
We also had the largest number of participants we have ever had, with 1,894 students from 70 high schools (35 from each country), while also achieving the highest student satisfaction rate of 97%. We are so thankful for all of the dedicated teachers who worked with us to ensure that the students had an outstanding experience and the supporters who made this program possible.
Over the duration of the program, students discussed a wide range of topics such as “favorite food,” “favorite music,” “if you could have any super power,” “bucket list,” and much more. One of the more unique topics covered this year was “Funny Story, Weird Story, Scary Story” by Southwest High School (Minnesota) and Naru High School (Nagasaki). The students shared many different stories such as a time a Japanese student was chased by a wild boar on her way to school to an American student getting a bad haircut that made him look like Willy Wonka and voted on what they thought was the best story. It was a great way to share many unique stories and bond with one another.
There were also pairs that engaged with one another in a different way from their usual discussion topics. Students at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan (New Jersey) posted messages of condolences in a special topic to their partner school Ueda Nishi High School in Nagano, which was impacted by the typhoon. Students exchanged messages like “we hope you are okay” and “my family and I are safe. Thank you for thinking of us!”
Below are some testimonials from student participants:
- It gave me a great chance to get to know the Japanese culture from people my own age. It also made me reconsider to continue studying Japanese because making new friends from other countries despite the language barriers will be great.
- I was able to learn a lot about Japanese the language, but more importantly, the culture that's different from mine. This program connected me with students from the other side of the world in a way that I'd never imagined happening. It was truly a unique experience as I'm sure that I would never have this same opportunity elsewhere.
- With the other teens I had interacted with, we were face to face, which is also good, but the online format made continued contact a lot easier. I could think about what I was going to say and how to say it as well as check certain words in a dictionary to make sure I was communicating effectively.
- By interacting with American high school students who are my age, some of the values I had changed. Also, because we exchanged comments in English and Japanese, it made me not afraid to make mistakes and I became less hesitant to use English.
- I learned about American culture and traditions and gained new values and new ways of looking at things. Before, I found it difficult to express ordinary actions in English but participating in the program improved my communication skills and my ability to express myself.
- I had always wanted to interact with people from other countries but never had an opportunity to do so. Through this program, I was able to interact with people from another country for the first time. I learned a lot about American schools and culture and it was really fun.
The comments from the students and the results of the Exit Survey show what we have been able to achieve – countless young minds and perspectives have been transformed!