Local families are hosts for Japanese summer exchange program
Explore Japan, a Milton-based summer exchange program for Japanese and American students age 8-16, has proved to be a unique and rewarding experience for the participants as well as the host families. Through this program, now in its 18th year, boys and girls from Japan visit host families in the greater Boston area for two weeks.
Under the supervision of Japanese experts, day-long activities at Pierce Middle School and Milton High School are scheduled for the students. These activities include workshops on Japanese language, arts and crafts, cooking, martial arts, calligraphy and a variety of interesting cultural exercises, as well as a number of field trips. More than 60 host families from the south suburban area took part in the program last year.
“Our girls have been going to Explore Japan for the past four years and every year it has been an enriching experience for the entire family,” said Jamaica Plain’s Deborah Wu, whose family hosted Yume Hayama, a 15-year-old girl, last summer and Mika Fukushima, also 15, two years ago. “They still keep in touch with the students and hope to visit them in Japan someday.”
In addition to Jamaica Plain, communities providing host families include Newton, Brookline, Braintree, Canton, Dedham and Milton.
There is no charge to host families and their children, or for their activities during the two weeks. Openings are still available for hosts who would like to participate this summer (see www.americanlearning.com for an application).
Activities take place in small groups broken down by age and gender. Among the daily field trips are visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway Park, the Boston Harbor cruise, bowling and an afternoon in Harvard Square.
Explore Japan, open to boys and girls age 8-16 and their families, is operated by American Learning, Inc., a nonprofit cultural exchange organization based in Canton and founded by Steve Shapiro. American Learning has been successfully operating Explore Japan since 1993 and has offered the program in 10 locations throughout New England.