The Dragon Spirit

High School Diplomats: A Multicultural Experience

Moira Charnot, Staff Writer

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Last summer, one of Collierville High School’s own students, senior Cullen Bertran, has participated in Princeton University’s program, the High School Diplomats, for a cultural exchange with students from Japan, and now has the chance to travel to Japan for the next stage of the program.

“I’ve always had a fascination with the Japanese culture as a whole,” says Bertran.

High School Diplomats is a multicultural exchange program at Princeton University that is done every year during summer break. In this program, 40 American students who apply are chosen, along with 40 students from Japan. The chosen students will then participate in a ten-day cultural exchange between Japanese and American culture, and each student is assigned a roommate that they are to stay with all day.

At the beginning of each day, the students would start by practicing typical Japanese routines, before heading to class time. During this time, the Japanese students would learn basic English, and the American students would learn basic Japanese. After that, there would be a two-hour long “culture class”.

When the culture class ends, they then go to lunch and have a presentation after lunch. Usually, the presentations would be the Japanese students giving presentations about issues in their culture; they were mostly related to the social and economic issues of their country. American students would give cultural presentations as well.

Finally, they would have a “rest time” (or as called in Japan, “yasumi“) in which the students would have free time for them to get to know their roommates. For some of these days, they would have a scheduled activity instead of rest time.

Each day had a different theme to it- usually, it was related to a holiday or activities done in either country. For example, during one of these days, Culture Day, the Japanese students set up and hosted their own Japanese festival. Another one, called Sports Day, was similar to a typical field day in elementary school. They played sports such as soccer, baseball, and dodgeball- the first two being the most prominent sports in Japan.

Of course, the American students also shared important parts of their culture, like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July. Even Prom Night isn’t celebrated in Japan. Another day they had was Hippie Day, which was their version of Earth Day- they had activities like painting and making “dirt pudding” out of chocolate pudding, Oreos, and gummy worms. Lastly, they had a free day, where the students would have other cultural interactions with their roommates.

Next summer, students who participated in the previous cultural exchange will have a chance to be one of the few lucky students who can go to Japan for a similar program, but in their country. Anyone who would be interested in world or cultural studies would see this as a great opportunity to experience a culture outside their continent.

Also, any sophomore or junior nationwide who wants to join this program next year would already be able to apply for this program on the High School Diplomats website- The deadline for applying this year is January 8th, 2018. Anyone applying must send in several applications, a resume, and a video. Afterward, applicants will be selected for an interview between late February and March with a previous graduate of High School Diplomats, and it will be later decided whether or not the applicant is admitted. If this program is for you, then there’s no time to be wasted!

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High School Diplomats: A Multicultural Experience