In 2006, the Society’s Sister School Relationship Program, made possible by a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation, was designed to establish long-term sister school relationships between middle schools in Hawaii, and junior high schools in Japan. Two sister school relationships were developed between Kawananakoa Middle School (Honolulu) and Uwajima Minami Junior High School (Ehime) AND Kapolei Middle School (Kapolei) and Kin Junior High School (Okinawa).
JASH was heavily involved during the first three years of the relationship. During the first year, a delegation of teachers and administrators from the Hawaii schools visited their counterparts in Japan and a reciprocal visit was done bringing a similar group from the Japanese schools to Hawaii. In this way, the teachers and administrators on both sides became familiar with each other, which we hoped would lead to a stronger relationship and better collaboration. At the conclusion of these visits and signing of agreements, the sister school relationship officially began.
During the second year, the Hawaii schools sent a delegation of 20 students for a week-long trip to Japan, followed by a reciprocal visit by Japanese students to Hawaii during the third year. Both the Hawaii and Japanese students spent a portion of their journey experiencing a home stay. JASH provided complete funding for the first three years, after which the schools promised to continue the relationship on their own.
This summer, JASH was contacted by Uwajima Minami JHS and Kapolei MS to ask if an office visit could be arranged. On Friday, July 31, a delegation of nearly 20 students and teachers visited JASH from Uwajima Minami JHS. The following Monday, August 3, another delegation of nearly 20 students and teachers from Kin JHS and Kapolei MS visited JASH to express their thanks and appreciation for establishing the Sister School Relationship nearly ten years ago. The leader with them, Mr. Jason Hamanaka, presented JASH President Lenny Yajima with a paddle recognizing the relationship between the two schools. He also informed Ms. Yajima that one week home stays are done every other year between Kin and Kapolei – eight students from Kin JHS come to Kapolei MS in August and later in the fall students from Kapolei MS visit Kin JHS. This is the fifth exchange that they have participated in since the program began in 2006.
When the Sister School Relationship Program was first developed, it was hoped that the relationships formed between the schools would last for many years to come. Learning that the Kapolei/Kin relationship is in its fifth year, all of us at JASH were so glad to know that we have planted the seeds for an ongoing U.S. – Japan relationship, and are building friendships between the students that will last a lifetime.