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Impressions of CCHS: Nanae HS English Club

By Ben Mirin, CIR, on Concordnanae.com and via Qik Live video

Last Friday, I showed this movie (in Japanese) to this year’s English Club at Nanae High School.  Produced by Nanae student delegates who visited Concord in 2010, the movie documents Japanese middle- and high-school student observations about Concord-Carlisle High School, where the delegates spent a week attending classes, touring the campus, and experiencing American high school life.

After showing the movie I asked our English Club students to identify differences they noticed in the video between CCHS and their own NHS.

If you’re a Concord student and you’ve been to Nanae, post some of your reactions after reading in the comment section below, or post them on our Facebook Page ! What was different about Nanae High School from CCHS?

Here’s what the Nanae students said:

Takanori Abe (2nd-year student, Class 2, 2011 Band Delegate to Concord):

It’s interesting that the bell at CCHS marks the end of class.  I was very surprised.  In Japan, the bell marks the start of class.

Chinami Takada (1st-year student), Akira Kimura (1st-year student, Class 3), & Shiori Wada (3rd-year student):

There is a big cafeteria in CCHS, but we have no cafeteria in our high school.  Students in Concord also have no school uniform, just like university students in Japan.

Ayu Kosugi (3rd-year student):

Students in Concord can use computers freely at any time.  We cannot.

Generally, I think CCHS is bigger than Nanae High School.

Read more

Episode 8

Sister Cities Ep 8: Harvard University

Produced by Nanae International Relations and Domestic Affairs
Directed by the CIR

Here it is! Episode 8, featuring the lovely Michiru Sakurai. Enjoy.

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The Concord-Nanae Student News Exchange Begins

By Ben Mirin, CIR

April 25th, 2011

Hitomi Shihoya

On April 11th, Concord-Carlisle High School’s student newspaper, The Voice, published its first article submitted by a student from Nanae High School.  Second-year student (high school junior) Hitomi Shihoya of the Nanae High School English Club wrote about her experience of Japan’s terrible earthquake last month and her reflections on its aftermath.

“I was very surprised because I had never seen such a large-scale earthquake in my whole life,” Shihoya writes.  “I came back to everyday life in a few days, but I am very anxious because I don’t know when the next natural disaster will happen. I am also very worried about more aftershocks, and the nuclear radiation in Fukushima.”

Shihoya’s article also expresses personal gratitude toward the US and other foreign nations that contributed to Japan’s relief efforts following the disaster. The complete text of her article can be seen on The Voice‘s website.

This publication marks the launch of what will hopefully become an ongoing exchange between high school students in Concord, Carlisle, and Nanae.  The projects’ orchestrators–the CIR and the faculty advisors to The Voice and the English Club–hope eventually to establish a written cross-cultural dialogue between students in both towns on at least a monthly basis.

Concord-Carlisle High School and Nanae High School are officially sister schools.  Official visits and home-stays between the schools’ bands and the CCHS Sci-Fi Club have been centerpieces in the rich history of the Concord-Nanae sister city relationship.  The Student News Exchange, as the project is tentatively titled, is intended to bring two more student organizations, the English Club and The Voice, more deeply into that framework. Read more

10 Things I Didn’t Think I Would Need in Nanae, Japan (Part 1)

By Ben Mirin, CIR

1. A guitar

I was sad to leave my guitars behind when I left the States, but I did not think that my work for Nanae would require the use of an instrument.

I attended my first meeting of the Nanae High School English Club on Tuesday.  At the last minute the Club’s faculty adviser had to take off to attend to one of her children, who had developed a fever at school that day.  With 30 minutes before the Club meeting, I needed to make a new lesson plan.  Somehow, I was able to borrow an acoustic guitar from my boss’s brother.  The instrument hadn’t been tuned in a while, and the high E string was missing, but that was enough; I know a few songs that only use the bottom 5 strings.  Scrambling, I printed out 5 copies of the lyrics to “Time of Your Life” by Green Day, cut them into strips of individual lines, and stuffed them into 5 envelopes.  I figured I could play the song while teams of students listened and raced to piece together the lyrics.  With help from several staff, I turned my section of the Town Office from International Relations into Arts and Crafts, and managed to make it to the high school with a few minutes to spare.

In the car I wondered, should I have picked a simpler song?  Are Green Day’s metaphors about life’s mysteries and the inevitable passage of time comprehensible in translation when they’re coming from a guy who hasn’t even sung their tune in 5 years?

Apparently, yes.  The students had little difficulty piecing the lyrics together, and with one and a half run-throughs of the song we had a winning team.  The victors got first pick from the Concord-themed gifts I had brought as prizes, but eventually all 17 girls had their choice among an array of Paul Revere and Minuteman key chains, Concord militia ribbons, and Walden Pond magnets.

I’m not sure if I’ll need a guitar again for English Club, but I wouldn’t be surprised.   Even if I cannot play one in my apartment for fear of offending my neighbors, I expect it will come in handy for future events at the high school, in my community English classes at the Onuma Seminar House, or in my classes at various nursery and elementary schools that start in January.

…To be continued…

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