In fact, that was exactly why a group of Japanese teenagers from Asago Junior High School – Perth’s twin sister city – were embedded in classes at the Stewart School last week, mostly to brush up on their already impressive English skills.
“I can’t speak English very well, but I want to talk with you,” said one boy during the welcoming ceremony in the school gym on Monday, Nov. 5.
“I hope I can be a good guest,” said another student, who then, like his fellow students did, in the good Japanese custom, bowed at the end of his remarks.
“I like dancing,” said a third girl, smiling shyly, dressed in her blue school uniform, with white trim. “Let us play dancing together.”
“We want to promote good relations between Canada and Japan,” said student Yuki Kawae. “We can make good memories together.”
While the students told their Canadian classmates that they liked Canadian cuisine, one youngster admitted that “I sometimes cannot understand your English. But I want to speak to you.”
The students themselves were set to act as teachers themselves in the classrooms, giving demonstrations on calligraphy, and how to properly use chopsticks.
Student Daiki Matsumoto played the traditional Japanese song “Sakura” on the piano at the assembly, and the students were amazed to hear the tale of Paul McRae, the Japanese/English translator who, though born in Oakville, Ont., was raised in Japan and speaks perfect Japanese. He now lives back in Canada but married a Japanese girl who, by coincidence, went to Asago Junior High. Both of his children were also born in Japan.
“Asago has a very special place in my heart,” said McRae.