BY ALEX TIGANI
It has been three years since Singleton High School students last visited Japan.
And it will be a long time before they are able to return as International borders remain closed during the global pandemic.
Therefore the school’s Year 11 Japanese language teacher Ren Barnett has taken a proactive approach to her students’ learning and engagement in 2021.
“We may not be able to return to Japan for four or five years so this year we are doing a regular zoom call to our sister school in Takahata,” she explained.
Last week local students introduced themselves in Japanese on their Zoom meeting before their foreign counterparts responded with questions in English.
“What are the meals you have in Australia?” asked one young man. “Does Singleton have convenience stores?” asked another female student.
While Singleton duo Rhiannon Barrow and Iqra Shaikh admit they would prefer to meet Takhata students in person; ‘zoom’ has proven to be the next best option.
“I found that I really enjoyed Japanese in Year 7 and 8 and wanted to come back to it,” Rhiannon told The Hunter River Times.
“I want to go to Japan one day and now that we can’t go at all it is a real bummer because I was really looking forward to it.”
Iqra revealed that she had been saving up for her Japanese study trip since moving to Singleton from Sydney in Year 7.
“When we started learning Japanese your brain memorises everything better and now in Year 11 we are able to refresh our memories back to some of those early words,” Iqra added.
“Our teacher said maybe the trip can go on next year but it’s still on the hold.”
The zoom meeting has proven to be just as resourceful for the students in Japan.
Takahata based English teacher Haruka Abiko has enjoyed watching her students correspond with those in Singleton. Her superiors share the same positivity.
“It is very important for children to have an International perspective and that is why the exchange remains important,” Mr Osamu Ooki (Assistant Director of the Social Education Division of Takahata Town Council) concluded.
MEANWHILE it is not just the Year 11 class that is in correspondence with Japan.
Singleton High School’s Year 8 class has also put together a virtual tour video of their school so that students in Takahata to help them gain more knowledge about Australian life.
“When we did Japanese in Year 7 and we went into lockdown I knew I wanted to continue doing it all the way to Year 12,” Year 8 student Matthew Waugh said.
“But then after the lockdown I was worried I might not get that chance to go on the trip.”