By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
A group of 41 junior high students from Japan paid a visit to the Town of Coaldale council chambers last Friday, as the group was welcomed by Deputy Mayor Jack Van Rijn, Coun. Roger Hohm and town CAO Kalen Hastings. The students learned about the town, before touring the Gem of the West Museum to learn about the town’s history. The students will be attending Kate Andrews High School during their two-week stay, which began earlier last week.
Jun Fukasawa, supervisor of Groups West from Muskoka Language International (MLI) from Vancouver, which provides students with English and cultural learning programs said this particular group will have ESL learning in the morning at the high school and will also take part in a cultural learning program and have a chance to learn about the Canadian school experience, as well as about Canadian cultures such as First Nations — complete with a trip to Head-Smashed In Buffalo Jump in Fort Macleod.
“They also have a chance to feel how Canadian high school life is like. They will be paired up with a Canadian student and they each will have a Canadian friend and then they are going to the regular classroom to learn about what Canadian students are learning at the school,” he noted.
“That’s the whole concept of the program. We work with the small communities like Coaldale to promote the small town to the international market,” he added.
MLI, a national business, pretty much sends students everywhere across the country, said Fukasawa, with another group visiting Red Deer.
“Right now, the company has two groups — in north and south Alberta,” he pointed out.
As for Canadian students visiting Japan one day, Fukasawa said the hope is this visit is a bridge between two different cultures.
“Right now, we are sending the students to Canada, but we hope this program will continue in the future. We’re hoping maybe Canadian students can visit a Japanese school,” he said.
Fukasawa would like to say thanks to everyone in Coaldale for opening their homes to be host families and to the high school.