After a Sunday spent with their host families, it was back to school for all the students on Monday in their formal attire for our final full day in Chiba. There are a number of locations throughout the school where memorabilia from previous exchanges are on display but today we noticed a special one in particular. Upstairs, photocopied on the walls were copies of the pages of the book Handsworth students from past years had made and sent to Inage in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. It was a wonderful reminder of our close connection we’ve had with our Japanese friends through both good times and times of hardship.
Today, Handsworth students had the opportunity to join a number of different activities around the school. The early morning was spent in an arts and crafts class where everyone was able to design their own custom chopsticks. This was followed by joining in on a PE class of the students choice. While a couple of students played basketball, most joined in on the traditional Japanese martial art of judo! After a brief warm up, students learned to grapple and throw their opponents! After judo, everyone relaxed with a serene calligraphy class before breaking for lunch. And then it was back to combative sports in the afternoon with a kendo (traditional Japanese sword fighting) class. The end of the school day was spent in English Communication and homeroom classes where students reconnected with their homestay friends.
In the evening all the families, staff, students and chaperones got together for our farewell party. Speeches were given by staff and students, including Logan and Drew who gave a wonderful summary of our groups experiences and thoughts on the past two weeks. Gifts were exchanged and photos taken, but the highlight at the end of the night was our performance of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Tonight is our final night in Japan… rumor has that many of the students are going with their homestay friends for some karaoke tonight. Tomorrow morning we’re back at school until mid-day when we depart for the airport and begin our long journey home.