Dana Hall welcomes two students from Tokyo

Sayaka Yamaguchi and Asumi Yazaki, two students from Tokyo Jogakkan Middle and High School (TJK), are spending this year at Dana Hall for their school study abroad program.  As the year progresses, one thing Asumi wants to achieve is  “improving her English, as well as making friends.” Additionally Sayaka hopes she can “make long lasting memories and friendships by the end of this year.” 

This year, Dana Hall held an exchange program with TJK, an all girls school in Tokyo, Japan. Two Dana Hall students went to TJK July 2023 for 2 weeks, where they stayed with host families. The two daughters from the host families are now at Dana Hall for the 2023-2024 school year. 

Sayaka recounted her experience as a host family as “incredibly fun,” and said that she enjoyed hosting Isla Burke, a Dana Hall student. “I liked it a lot, I got to know how to prepare for Dana, and understand Dana hall’s community better. Additionally, I really enjoyed Isla’s company, and hosting her was my pleasure. Isla was pretty familiar with Japanese culture, and I found it incredibly easy to connect with her.” 

Asumi said that her experience hosting Dana Hall student, Sophia Lopez Alvarez was “so fun.” I got to get closer to Sophia, who is really kind and sweet. I’m so grateful that I was able to host her this June.” 

Japanese schools and American schools have different cultures and according to Asumi, “School in Japan was really strict, during classes, there was rarely any instance where I could participate. A typical day in class would be listening to the teacher’s lecture, taking notes, going home and studying the notes. I am nothing but grateful for the opportunity to attend Dana Hall. Here in Dana, I feel like I can express my opinions more freely, and at the same time, I feel that everyone accepts my opinions, they find interest in what I have to say. Additionally, I like an all girls school because I feel like it’s easier to make friends, and belong in the community.”

As their families are in Japan, which is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight time, it is difficult for the exchange students to communicate with their families. To add even more difficulty, TJK has a policy in which students abroad for the study program are only permitted to meet their parents at the end of their program; this policy was set to help the abroad students gain independence. However, they are allowed to communicate with families through technology. While some individuals may find this policy challenging to deal with, Sayaka enjoys it. “I have always wanted to participate in the study abroad program since 7th grade, because I wanted to make a change in your highschool life. I wanted to experience different cultures and diversity, and I knew Dana was a boarding school and one of my goals was to be independent,” she said. 

Expanding on school policies, the students were allowed to choose one out of the three different boarding schools to attend; two being in Massachusetts and one being in Canada. “It was mostly a random choice choosing Dana , however I remembered my teacher, Ms Brunelly, who teaches English at TJK, mentioning that she had taught in Dana around 30 yrs ago. So I decided to choose Dana Hall to go through a bit of what she had experienced,” Sayaka says. 

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