Sixth Form students from West Lakes Academy will spend eight days in Tokyo and Fukushima, Japan, visiting schools, meeting students and teachers and those involved in the regeneration of the region following the Tsunami in 2011.
This is the first exchange between the two regions and will see students enjoy what is hoped will be the first of a long-standing relationship that aspires to have teacher exchanges in the future. This year, 20 students will have a deeply moving cultural experience, being immersed in Japanese culture.
They will meet the students who came to west Cumbria in August, shadow lessons, take part in classes of calligraphy, Kendo and music to name but a few. Over the eight days they will also visit Fukushima Daiichi and the surrounding district and then they will present to a 300-strong audience comprising students, teachers, prominent leaders in the world of business and industry on the impact their experiences have had on their outlook living in west Cumbria. The visit will be marked by the planting of cherry blossom trees which are a symbol of the regeneration efforts.
The sponsors of West Lakes Academy (Sellafield Ltd., the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the University of Central Lancashire) view the exchange as the opportunity to improve the aspirations of young people across the county and that is why one of the challenges to the students is to visit schools when they return and share their experience as a way of promoting, among other things, the value of learning a second language and appreciating the culture of other countries.
Watch out for West Lakes Academy’s Facebook page as the students will be writing a blog each day to capture their experiences and the impact they’ve had but remember they’ll be eight hours ahead!
Ellie Parr (West Lakes Academy Head Girl) said:
‘The Japan exchange will be an experience of a lifetime and I am sure it will help me develop my confidence and challenge me to view what I think is possible in my future! From learning about the Japanese language to exploring how they express themselves through dance, this trip will enrich my understanding of other cultures.’
Curtis Hailes (West Lakes Academy Head Boy) said:
‘I am excited about the exchange because I am keen to see how different our cultures are. I am keen to see how their strong community-focused society differs with ours where I feel we focus on individuality.’
James Jackson (West Lakes Academy Principal) said:
“Our vision at West Lakes Academy is to change lives through learning – what our young people will see and experience on this trip will certainly give them exposure to a culture and memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives as well as continue to forge strong links between the two areas.”