March at CCH is well known as being the busiest time of the year. With the show in full swing, the end of basketball season, the start of all the spring sports as well as graduation quickly approaching (OMG!), we can safely say that students are busier than ever. However, while rushing to your Calculus class or your co-curricular activity you may notice several new faces. They may look somewhat disoriented, in shock of the students’ wardrobes and amazed by the snow covering our lawns. Yes, these are indeed the Japanese exchange students that arrived last Sunday from Sendai, Japan.
Eighteen students and three teachers will be joining our community for the next three weeks. They are students from Saint Ursula High School, Catholic Central’s sister school. For most of these students, it is it their first time in Canada or even outside of Japan. They will have to accommodate to the culture, our language and the time difference. (15 hours – yikes!) Although it is one of the greatest adventures one can live, it is not simple!
Last summer, Mr. Cox, Mrs. Kroker, nine other students and I left for Japan for two weeks to experience the life of the Japanese. After visiting Kyoto and taking the bullet train at 320km/h, we were placed with Japanese families. We had to accommodate to having rice for breakfast, lunch and supper, wearing some type of uniform to school, going to school on a Saturday, paying in thousands for a meal, and having the courage to participate in Japan’s favorite sport: karaoke. We also had to understand how the toilet works. Yes, you read that right: the toilet. I believe that Canada should import Japanese toilets as they are the most magical thing ever. With over fifteen different settings, they can play music, heat the seat, be used as a bidet and other eccentric possibilities.
However, my fondest memory of Japan is the people. They are the kindest, most generous people I have ever met. They did everything for us Canadian students to feel at ease, and help us fall in love with their country. When I questioned my host father why the were Japanese so thoughtful, he wrote me in a letter about the practice of sado and the principle of Ichigoichie:
“In Japanese, Sado describes the manner to drink tea, one of the most sacred practices of my culture. In this custom lays the most important principle: ichigoichie. It is the idea that if you welcome an individual, they are perhaps a person you see for the first time and also for the last time. Therefore you must welcome them with your best hospitality.” –Norio Murooka
For the next three weeks, between their trip to Waterton and their first hockey game, I hope that the Japanese students will be able to recognize the kindness of Canadians. They are people we may meet only once but, as they believe, every encounter is special and may lead to a new understanding of life and one’s view of the world. Our CCH community must treat them with its best hospitality, as we always do to newcomers.
Charlène Golsteyn is a grade twelve student at CCH. She enjoys overbooking her schedule with the many clubs, events, and sports offered at CCH. If she is not doing something with the school, you might find her drawing portraits of her (kinda) cool friends, playing around with E. Coli, or simply talking to her best friend while on the floor eating Nutella by the spoon. Her goal this year is to accomplish everything on her top secret bucket list and leave behind a legacy.