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Another excellent exchange

15 November 2019

Westminster City School pupils have returned from Japan, after taking part in our long-running and life-changing exchange programme.

For over 20 years, Westminster City School has been undertaking a Japanese exchange, which sees pupils experience a completely different culture firsthand. This year was no exception, with four Year 10 pupils arriving in Tokyo on Sunday 3 November alongside our Headteacher, Mr Peter Broughton.

Mr Broughton explains: “Despite some sadness about the outcome of the Rugby World Cup final the day before, we were all happy to be in Japan! Our pupils spent Sunday afternoon and Monday with their host families, and were then at Kojimachi Junior High School on Tuesday. We also attended a formal reception at Chiyoda City Hall where our pupils gave speeches, in Japanese, in front of the City Mayor.

“Later in the week, we were at Kandahitotsubashi Junior High School, where one Westminster City School pupil, David, did a brilliant job at producing Sho-ji (Japanese calligraphy). We were pleased to see so many reminders around the school of Kandahitotsubashi’s links with Westminster City School and the UK, such as a framed picture of our School and a model of a black London cab!”

As well as attending classes at their exchange partners’ school, our pupils went on several culturally significant excursions. On Wednesday, pupils visited the ancient city of Kamakura, close to Tokyo, that had at one point been the capital of Japan. Here they saw the Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) statue, plus a number of different temples.

Back in London, Year 10 pupil, Akash, couldn’t stop smiling when asked about his time on the exchange. He said: “It was brilliant! Although it felt strange at first, staying with a different family, I soon settled in and the exchange helped me get a real sense of life in Japan and a real understanding of a completely different culture. It also developed my language skills enormously. I didn’t feel homesick at all but made a new home in Tokyo!”

Two of our other exchange pupils, Edwin and Kainan, were also full of praise for their experience. Kainan said: “The food was amazing although, at times, there was too much to eat. You certainly would never go hungry there!” Edwin was also impressed with how clean Japan’s capital city was, adding: “There wasn’t a speck of dirt anywhere! I would really recommend Tokyo. I wish we could have stayed there even longer.”

Mr Broughton added: “The Japanese exchange offers full immersion to our pupils, who spend ten days living with their host family, eating Japanese food, attending Japanese schools and absorbing Japanese culture. It is a fantastic experience and I am very proud of how our four pupils represented themselves, and our School, on the other side of the world.”

Westminster City School pupils write a letter of application to join the Japan exchange programme during Year 9. Pupils are then interviewed and those selected must attend Japanese lessons to learn more about the language and culture. Prior to departure for Tokyo, our pupils make contact with their exchange partners, in order to gather information about them and their families.

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