A group of Nueva students visited Japan last month to gain a greater understanding of the culture and language as part of the first Upper School exchange trip.

For the 10-day trip, Nueva partnered with two Doshisha high schools: Kori and International, and the 11 Nueva students were assigned homestays.

“The model of ‘learn by doing’ is exemplified in the trips,” ninth-grade dean Hillary Freeman said. “Students are thrust into environments that are relatively unknown, but they are thoroughly prepared by their education at Nueva to experience the wonder of travel.”

Even something as simple as buying gum at the store in another country is a new, sensory experience. Where to go, how to get there, how to hand people money and receive change are different than in the United States, Freeman said.

“In the breadth of time in these places you are learning,” she added.

Eleventh-grader Austin V. said he observed a lot of cultural differences between Japan and the United States.

“The underlying cultural idea in Japan came from this Samurai and warlord mentality,” Austin said. “The highest thing you could be was loyal and to follow orders.”

He added people receive orders; it’s not their job to question. “People find a lot of honor in that,” Austin said.

There are also different forms of politeness.

“Crime rates in Japan are incredibly low,” Austin said. “People have been known to just leave tens of thousands of dollars of equipment on a train and when they come back the next day it’s still there.”

Finally, Austin said he noticed distinctions in the corporate landscape.

“It’s the opposite of Silicon Valley,” he said. “People are encouraged to stay in one company their whole life once they’re in. And every decision has to be agreed upon by everyone. Their business structure is very slow; a lot of people here would find it very crushing. But there it’s just normal and they see it as the most efficient way to do business.”

During the trip, students visited Kyoto and Tokyo. In Kyoto, they had a few culturally immersive experiences.

They visited shrines, temples, and even a confection-making business to learn how Japanese sweets are made; observed fabric dyeing; and decorated fans. Students learned about the dedication, discipline, energy, and time that goes into the products, Japanese teacher Chris Scott said.

“All of these are very representative of Kyoto culture,” he added.

While in Tokyo, students witnessed the issues of urban development and culture preservation. They saw the different aspects of “old Tokyo” and “new Tokyo” and observed the density of the city — which is home to 23 million people.

Students also gave various presentations and book talks, conducted research and had wide-ranging discussions with the Japanese students. They talked about typical teenage topics, Donald Trump, English and Japanese slang, college, and biracial societies.

Tenth-grader Adam K. said he enjoyed the opportunity to be in a foreign country and speak so much Japanese.

“I improved greatly, mostly due to the fact that I had no choice over what language I spoke,” Adam said. “I realized how much more Japanese I was speaking than when I am in class or at home. I take my English fluency for granted; having to struggle to communicate really helped me improve.”

While the Upper School exchange program is a brand-new program this year, the plan is to eventually have trips in every language offered.

One of the goals is to build on the Middle School program, which has developed exchange programs with schools in China, Japan, and Spain.

“The purpose is to have an exchange between the two schools and to be immersed in the language and culture,” Scott said.

Beyond language acquisition and cultural immersion, organizers hoped students left with compassion and an understanding of people and emotions that transcend political challenges, Freeman added.

“We want the Japan trip to be a signature program for the language program here,” Scott said. “It’ something students can look forward to and we can build from. They can come back and build on what they learn there. No matter when they go it can be a real boost in proficiency and confidence for a young person.”

A group of Japanese students will visit Nueva March 22–April 2.

March 11, 2016



6565 Skyline Blvd.
Hillsborough, CA 94010





131 E. 28th Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403



fbinstagram 01intwitter 01



© The Nueva School 2016 · Sitemap · Terms of Use