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School exchange back in class

After a three-year hiatus due to covid-19 disruptions, Masterton Intermediate School [MIS] welcomed back its Japanese exchange school Shijonawate Gakuen Junior High School [SGJHS], with a pōwhiri [pictured] recently.

The MIS and SGJHS exchange – which started in 1996 – is one of the longest-running international exchange programmes between two schools in New Zealand.

The principal of SGJHS, Kyoshi Horii, first came to New Zealand in 1996 when he was a teacher at the school.

Since then, Horii and MIS principal Russell Thompson have created a strong bond both for educational and friendship purposes.

Families of students from MIS are currently hosting each of the 11 Japanese students – six girls and five boys – which is a great opportunity to immerse them in the Kiwi culture.

Thompson told the Times-Age that this year there will be a sports day held for the students, with a chance to teach dances, such as the macarena and basics of the Samoan Sasa, followed by games of rob the nest, basketball, and volleyball.

“Some of our kids who have hosted or gone over to Japan, they actually go back in their college years or even after that,” Thompson said.

“We’re really happy to be able to resurrect something that’s special, and it doesn’t happen in many schools, not at an intermediate level.”

Students and teachers at MIS are looking forward to hosting their Sayonara [goodbye] Evening on August 11 – a chance for the Japanese students to learn poi, rakau, and haka.

In return, SGJHS will give Japanese cultural performances.

Meanwhile, MIS students are buzzing with excitement as they set off on their exchange to SGJHS on the last week of term three [September 19].

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