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Japan Experience: Sixth Form Travel Tour 2018

posted Jan 8, 2019, 12:21 AM by J Grant   [ updated Jan 8, 2019, 12:57 AM ]
The 9-day Study Tour took place during the 2018 October half term holiday and involved 12 Year 13 students accompanied by Mr Knox, Mrs Honeyghan and Mrs Mander along with Rory Steele from the British organising charity, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation who funded the visit in full.

The Tour was based around Osaka, a city with a population of 2.3 million and there were also visits to the original capital city of Japan, Kyoto and Hiroshima, the site of the first use of a nuclear weapon against a civilian population in August 1945.

The programme in Japan was explicitly designed to reflect the history, the geography, the social, the religious and the cultural aspects of Japan, so that the students had a broad base for comparison with life in the UK. Students and teachers were accommodated in Japanese homestays with Japanese families except for the night of arrival, and one mid-week visit where the group stayed at a traditional Japanese Inn on the island of Miyajima.

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation aims to give students, who would not otherwise have the opportunity, first-hand experience of the life and culture of Japan. The Study Tour was born from the desire, therefore, to give more of these young students the opportunity to visit Japan and to experience the life and culture of a country so very different from their own. The programme has been running since 2002, with a different Sixth Form each year being given this chance, so for Holyhead to be selected was an incredible privilege and an honour.

As a set of new experiences in a fairly intensive programme, the Tour was hectic and challenging, meaning that the participants needed to be suitable young ambassadors for not only Holyhead School, but also our country, and therefore needed to have a level of intellectual curiosity and maturity and independence that would enable them to benefit from a trip of this kind.

The selected students from Holyhead did an amazing job at this. They were everything that was hoped for and much more. Students fully embraced this amazing experience in every possible way, from building wonderful relationships with their home-stay families to navigating the city’s public transport network independently, from asking sensitive, yet pointed questions to Buddhist monks and A-bomb survivors, and most importantly to trying everything that Japan had to offer them. This was not only an opportunity of a lifetime, but it was a challenge of a lifetime at the age of 18. 

Travelling for over 24 hours, arriving in a city with such different language and customs, living with a family of strangers far from home with the challenge of becoming part of a family in a very short space of time and overcoming jetlag were just a few of the novel experiences that needed to be faced and overcome. In meeting these challenges, the staff and students were able to find out that Japan is an incredibly warm and welcoming country, that its people show kindness and generosity in equal measure, and that this is a society that wants to learn about Britain in the same way that our students wanted to find out about Japan.