20th Anniversary with Sister School, Fuchu High

Chanelle Camero

For one week MHS students and advisors traveled to Japan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the sister statehood relationship with Fuchu High School on Oct. 4.

“In addition to celebrating 20 years of sister state relationships between Hawaii and Hiroshima, this was also an excellent opportunity to experience a different culture in another part of the world. Books and other academic resources can only take you so far. In the end, traveling is the best way to learn more about the world around us and understand that no matter where we come from, ultimately we are more alike than we are unalike,” said Senior Travis Afuso.

As part of the celebration, representatives of all the partner schools gathered for a reception dinner. While attending, Hawaii and Hiroshima contributed items to a time capsule that is planned to be opened ten years from now during a reunion with everyone. “So at the dinner, students were asked to reflect upon this partnership, reflect upon our visit, and they wrote where, in ten years, do they hope to see our partnership go. So each student wrote it on a piece of paper and then they folded it into an origami crane and that’s going to go into the time capsule. And then each school also put in something to represent their school,” said Assistant Principal Joy Matsukawa.

A paddle was put into the time capsule as a representation of MHS and the sister state partnership. “To get your canoe from one place to another, you have to work as a team and paddle together to reach our goal and that’s what we were, that’s what we are, right? Our school, being partners with Fuchu High School, we’re team paddling,” said Matsukawa.

The relationship between MHS Principal Fred Murphy and Fuchu High School Principal Etsuo Murakami has developed over the course of the schools’ partnership, leading to multiple visits between schools. “And I think Mr. Murphy was approached if he wanted to participate and be a sister school partner. What I found out while we were on the trip was this is an honor because Hiroshima is allowed only one partnership in America. Only one state. That’s their rule,” said Matsukawa.      

The sister state partnership has a lot of significance not only to the schools, but to the students as well. “It’s interesting to have students at this age already begin to develop international relationships because it’s something that’s definitely going to help in the future and it’s something that we definitely need to continue to do. So it’s good that we start early and already have this connection,” said Japanese National Honor Society President  Tracie Okumura.

For most of the students, it was their first time going to Japan. They learned about and overcame real life travelling challenges. “Everyone can read about it in a book and see pictures, but to actually experience it and see it first hand is an invaluable learning experience. From the students’ schooling, to their culture, to navigating the trains, purchasing things because it’s not American dollars, it’s using yen, and so doing the whole conversion of yen and figuring out different prices and eating different foods,” said Matsukawa.

The importance of the trip varied from the 20th anniversary to personal experiences. “Well for me, it was an opportunity to use my Japanese skills for once and it was my first time being there so that was really cool and it’s nice,” said Okumura. “I’ve been participating in the touring of the Fuchu students and having pen pals, so for me, it was nice to be able to understand that relationship more.”

The group also went to Hiroshima University to learn more about schooling in Japan. “I was impressed by the low tuition fees at the university and the development of a new English-based curriculum that will commence in 2018. It opened my eyes to some of the other opportunities that exist outside of the United States for furthering my education,” said Afuso.

The group visited Miyajima Island, a tourist attraction well known for the abundance of deer. “These deer, viewed as sacred messengers of the gods in Japanese culture, have become quite accustomed to being in close proximity to humans. While we looked out at the torii gate in the harbor, one of these deer came up to me, nudged its head under my raincoat and began eating the buttons off of my shirt,” said Afuso.

Many students involved in the trip gained irreplaceable memories that they will be able to look back fondly on. “My favorite memory has to be of, aside from the shopping and sightseeing, it has to be going to Miyajima Island. The funny things that happened—seeing Travis get his buttons eaten by deer and trying to cross a river and not doing too well—just the funny memories and the new friends that I made,” said Okumura.

The celebration of the 20th anniversary successfully came to a close, leaving everyone with a valuable learning experience. The sister state schools will continue developing their relationship for years to come.