Content related to students and teachers at Nanae High School.

Concord Receives Largest Nanae Delegation in Town History

By Ben Mirin

As seen in The Concord Journal.

On September 23rd, Concord received its largest ever delegation from Nanae, the town’s Japanese sister city. A group of seventy-two delegates filled the cafeteria of Concord Carlisle High School around 9pm to meet their host families and settle in for a week of exchange programs, official sister-city events, and sightseeing.

“We’ve been planning the events for this delegation visit for nearly a year now,” said Dr. Tom Curtin, Concord-Carlisle High School’s former guidance counselor and Concord’s primary coordinator and linchpin for the towns’ increasingly rich sister city history.

“We’ve just finished arranging all the homestays, and the group we’ve got on board to help host and entertain this year’s delegates is incredibly strong. We’re also excited to welcome some new faces from Boston into the sister city program, who have helped organized some exciting trips for us downtown.”

This year Nanae’s delegates will make several time-honored visits to Concord sites, including the Old North Bridge and the Orchard House. Curtin has also arranged tours of Harvard Square, the Japanese wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, and Berklee College of Music, with a special live performance by Japanese faculty member and trumpet virtuoso Tiger Okoshi.

Nanae has been sending its citizens to Concord almost every year since 1993, first informally and then officially after Concord’s Board of Selectmen voted to formalize the sister-city relationship in 1997. Historically, these groups have been on the smaller side, rarely amounting to more than twenty people. Students and teachers from Nanae’s elementary, middle, and high schools have comprised the majority of each delegation, alongside representatives of the local government. Members of the town’s taiko drum ensemble, interpreters, and many other citizens have also been in the mix.

But this year’s group is so large because of a promise that was made early on in the Concord-Nanae relationship, which will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary in October 2012. The Concord-Carlisle High School band director, Alfred Dentino, has been waiting to see it fulfilled.

“We first sent our Concert and Jazz bands to Nanae in 1998” Dentino said. “The trip was a great success, and our students loved having the chance to visit Japan. I’ve been waiting for the chance to host Nanae’s high school band in Concord ever since.” Read more

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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Nanae Students Visit Concord, MA, in October 2010

Nanae Students Visit Concord

By Ben Mirin, CIR.

On October 11th, 2010, eight students from Nanae High School and Middle School began a week-long visit to Concord, Massachusetts.  All were select members of Nanae‘s annual delegation to Concord, and most had never traveled outside of Japan.  Together with the help of the CIR, Ben Mirin, and staff at Concord-Carlisle High School, they produced a 10-minute documentary about their experiences and initial impressions of CCHS and its people.

Read more