École Handsworth Secondary
North Vancouver School District
Japan Exchange
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The Handsworth Japan Exchange has been offered annually to grade 9 students for over 20 years now. ​

The Grade 9 Japan Exchange is one of the longest running cultural programs at Handsworth beginning in 1989! The current model of the exchange with Inage High School, our sister school, in Chiba began in 1992 and has run almost every year since (with two travel exceptions before a COVID break). The exchange aims to immerse students in not only the history but also the culture of Japan, and to give them the opportunity and responsibility to act as ambassadors for not only Handsworth but also North Vancouver within Japan as a whole and specifically with Chiba, North Vancouver’s sister city.

Student’s exposure to the Japanese experience begins throughout the fall and winter as students undertake seminars in language, customs and culture to gain an understanding of what they will experience during their visit Japan in the spring.

In April, participants travel to Japan for two weeks. The first week is spent exploring and experiencing different regions and centres on Honshu including historic and cultural capitals of Japan, immersing themselves in both urban and rural Japan, and acting as youth peace ambassadors at the Peace Memorial in 
Hiroshima. Throughout the week, students are given the opportunity to expand their sense-of-self, responsibility, and cultural awareness as they navigate the sites in small groups, taking in the language, culture and food of the different regions and the country as a whole.

The second week of the exchange brings with it one of the most important aspects of the experience, and that which sets it apart from it just being a trip to Japan, and unique amongst other cultural experiences in the North Vancouver School District. Students (in pairs) billet in Japanese homes, experiencing the day-today lives of their host families and how the lives of Japanese high school students differ and most importantly are similar to their own here at Handsworth, taking part in classes and popular recreation activities. As part of our role as ambassadors, students take part in formal activities such as a visit to the Mayor’s office in Chiba, on behalf of the Mayor of North Vancouver, helping to foster the relationship between the cities.

Almost all of the students who have taken part in the exchange look back with fondness on the experience, in many cases referring to it as life changing, even decades after they return.

For more information please contact Mr. M. Forsyth, Japan Exchange Sponsor at mforsyth@sd44.ca.



Japan Exchange April 9 to 23, 2024​: Japan 2024 | Handsworth in Japan (wordpress.com​)


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Japan Exchange April 11 and 25, 2023: https://handsworthjapan2023.wordpress.com/​.

To see highlights from past trips, please visit the following links:

2019 Japan Weblog: https://handsworthjapan2019.wordpress.com/

2018 Japan Weblog: https://handsworthjapan2018.wordpress.com/

2017 Japan Weblog: https://handsworthjapan2017.wordpress.com/

2016 Japan Weblog: https://handsworthjapan2016.wordpress.com/   

link to pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/104843648@N06/albums/72157665153301463

2013 Japan Weblog: http://handsworthjapan2013.wordpress.com/