By James Burcky
After ten years of hosting students from their sister school, Sagamihara High School in Kanagawa, Japan, Arundel High School welcomed a brand new group of Sagamihara students today, March 19, at a welcoming ceremony in the school auditorium.
Arundel’s Signature Program teacher and students ran the ceremony. It started with a performance from the Arundel Jazz Band, followed by a presentation from Arundel students who visited Sagamihara this past summer. Then, the Arundel Dance Company performed.
One of the Signature Program student leaders, Beyza Yazici, played a video of memories from the past two years of the Japanese exchange program. After that, Mr. Koyama and Mr. Hideki, the two teachers from Japan accompanying the exchange students, spoke about how excited they were to bring 25 of their students to America to experience a different culture, and how thankful they were for Arundel to give them this experience.
Then, all 25 Sagamihara students were brought on stage. The students gave their names and shared what they hoped to gain from this trip.
The ceremony concluded with Ms. Billheimer, one of the teachers in charge of Signature, thanking everyone for attending, including the students from Japan and their hosts.
In an interview with The Pulse, Ms. Billheimer discussed what she’s excited for regarding this year’s exchange students. She said that the hosting program is “one of the nicest experiences to be part of because you can really see in such a short time how easy barriers are broken and relationships are made.”
She went on to discuss how each year at the closing ceremony, everyone is a sobbing mess since they have to see their new “family members” leave, despite only having been with each other for a week.
Arundel Signature student Rachel Schrier believes that everything the Signature Program stands for is building the community we live in, at home and globally, and “there is no better way to do just that than this.”
Julia Hansen, another Arundel Signature student, said that through Signature, she’s grown as a person from freshman to senior year. “[Signature students] aren’t just students at Arundel High School, but citizens of the world,” Hansen said.
Ms. Billheimer said that even if people are from different places, “language is never a reason not to communicate with somebody.” She added that “[language] shows how fast we can make bonds.”