Lansing Students Prepare for Trip to Japan
Sunday, February 4, 2018

 From left to right:  Japanese language and culture teachers Dawn Stark from Everett High School (E) and Bridget Cooper from JW Sexton High School (S) convened with students; Miracle Yang (S), Monica Medina (S), Kenneth Hobday (E),  Kyjuana Floyd (S), Zakari Williams (E) and Eddianys Torres (E).  

Photo by Howard T. Spence
By Howard T. Spence
LANSING, MI -- Twenty-three students from the Lansing School District who attend either J.W. Sexton High School or Everett High School have been invited to participate in a two-week long, fully funded, all expenses paid trip to Japan. The invitation and funding for the trip are made possible by a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The students will be acting as “junior ambassadors” to Japan from the Greater Lansing area and the United States. Their trip to Japan will occur from March 19th through March 27th of 2018. 
The students are now entering into the final preparation stages to make sure that they are ready for the trip. Passports and visas have been secured. Some students are busy trying to raise funds for pocket money, souvenirs, and gifts for parents and friends who have supported their educational efforts.  The students will be accompanied by their Japanese instructors, Dawn Stark and Bridgett Cooper.
“Students who have been in the Japanese language and culture classes at Sexton and Everett High Schools were selected to participate in this trip to represent the Lansing area” said Bridgett Cooper, Japanese language and culture teacher at Sexton High School. “The kids are very excited about what may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for international travel. This is something that they will never forget!”
The students were selected following a strict application review process, which included written application submissions, and also interviews by panels of community volunteer judges. The following thirteen students from Everett High School have been selected to participate in the Kakehashi junior ambassador program visit to Japan: Tania Cooper, Vivian Ho, Kenneth Hobday, Bella Irving, Koren King, Nicollette Ly, Asia Ruiz-Newton, Alijah Sheerin, Jacob Todd, Eddianys Torres, Toan Tran, Zakari Williams, and Zachary Zmyslowski. 
Ten additional students from Sexton High School: Ayrion Allen-White, Emily Glaister, Kyjuana Floyd, Colin Janak, Cloe Mauldin, Monica Medina, Antonio Salas-Mejia, Anatasia Nemeth, Miracle Yang, and Nou Gee Yang. 
“Our students from the Lansing School District have been working very hard to learn more about their world and diverse languages and cultures,” said Ms. Dawn Stark, Japanese language and culture teacher from Everett High School. “Opportunities like this one to represent Lansing in a program like this “Kakehashi” program are rare, and rewards like this international trip should greatly encourage our students to raise their game in the classroom. The students are justifiably very proud to think that they will be representing American students to students and government officials in Japan.”
The group of students who were selected after the competition to be included in this program represent the diversity of the community. Students of multiple races and ethnic backgrounds, including some immigrant and refugee families, were awarded positions as ambassadors.
“Opportunities being offered to Lansing School District students enrolled in the Japanese Language and Culture courses, are very valuable and relatively rare,” said Ms. Barbara Roberts Mason. She is the President of the Lansing Regional Sister Cities Commission. “Lansing is a sister city to Otsu, Japan. Exchange programs provide students with a broad knowledge of the world outside their borders and help them gain acceptance and understanding of different cultural perspectives and others’ world views. We are proud of the twenty-three students who will be representing the Lansing area in Japan on this international trip.”
Taking a step further to support the students during their trip to Japan, the Lansing Regional Sister Cities Commission voted during their January 26, 2018 commission meeting to award each student a gift of one hundred dollars to be used as they wish for any incidental expenses they may have while abroad.
February 4, 2018 - February 17, 2018

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