Visiting pupils from Japan bring total to 100

Japanese teacher Debra Hayama (centre) with some of her pupils visiting East Otago High School....
Japanese teacher Debra Hayama (centre) with some of her pupils visiting East Otago High School. Photo by Bill Campbell.
The total number of Japanese secondary school pupils to have visited East Otago High School has reached 100 with the recent arrival of another group.

English language teacher in Japan and fluent Japanese speaker Debra Hayama, from Nichidai Third Junior High School, brings the pupils to Palmerston for short-term English-language immersion programmes.

She has brought five groups to New Zealand in the past six years - none came last year because of concerns in Japan about swine flu.

The pupils stay with East Otago families.

East Otago people are very warm and welcoming, Mrs Hayama said.

The East Otago High School buddy programme which pairs each Japanese 14- or 15-year-old pupil with an East Otago High School buddy is strong, Mrs Hayama said.

The Japanese pupils studied English for three years before coming to New Zealand.

The Japanese pupils also make visits to nearby farms to see such things as sheep-shearing demonstrations, during their 12-day stay.

They are introduced to Maori protocol at East Otago High School.

They visit the albatross colony in Dunedin and walk up Baldwin St.

The annual visit by the Japanese pupils helped to make East Otago High School pupils aware of other cultures and the value of learning other languages, East Otago High School principal Rick Geerlofs said.

He was keen to see the programme continue.

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