Sentinel’s Japan club, run by history teacher Drew Burfeind, hosted 16 japanese exchange students from October 30th through November 6th. Sentinel is sister schools with Kaishin High School located in Kumamoto, Japan. The exchange between Missoula students and Kumamoto, Japan students occurs every year. The night the exchange students arrived in Missoula, it was very nerve racking for the hosting families. The plane landed around 9:30 p.m. and the Japan club members finally got to meet their host students. The language barrier was intimidating due to the lack understanding each other’s native languages.
Throughout the week, the Japan club members made the exchange students try to feel as much at home as they could. They took the exchange students on tours around Missoula, showed them major areas of the town and showed them how they live their day to day lives. Drew Burfeind set up barbecues, dinners, and hangouts for all of the host students and the exchange students to warm up to each other. By the end of the week, the host students and exchange students seemed as though they had known one another for years.
On Thursday, November 3, Sentinel had an assembly recognizing the fall sports and introducing the Japanese exchange students. While introducing the students, Emma Skousen, President of Japan club, gave the Supervisor of the exchange students $350 that the Japan club members raised. April 16, 2016, Kumamoto, Japan had a devastating earthquake that ruined the entire town. Many families lost their homes and family members, and caused tremendous sadness. Because Kaishin High School is Sentinel’s sister school, the Japan club decided to hold a bake sale to raise money for their fellow Japanese friends. The club managed to raise $350 which is equivalent to about 37,000 Japanese Yen.
Japan club wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen when the exchange students would come, but they developed good friendships and had a blast showing them around and introducing them to a new culture they had never experienced before.