Japanese students visit BSM

Alana Profit

After an approximately 19 hour plane ride transversing 9,015 miles, a plane will touch down at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport on November 17 with 40 girls and 11 boys from Kaisei Gakuin High School in Hokkaido, Japan. From the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, they will board a bus and venture to the parking lot of Benilde-St. Margaret’s to meet their host families for a week.

With them will be four chaperons, including a nurse and Mr. Mitsuo Takado, the principal from their school. One of Mr. Takado’s main initiatives for this trip is simply to improve the students’ English speaking and listening skills. “Currently one of the school’s main selling points is high English proficiency test scores,” said Tom Haeg.

The specific request of Kaisei Gakuin was to travel somewhere in the Midwest so the kids could get the chance to visit St. John’s. “Their school was founded by the Benedictines from St. John’s and St. Ben’s about 40 years ago,” said Haeg.

Haeg, parent and uncle of numerous BSM graduates, was contacted to coordinate this school visit for the Japanese freshmen and sophomores. “This association is indirectly linked to BSM because Benilde, too, was administered by the Benedictines during the ’70’s,” said Haeg.

Coincidentally, Haeg not only has connections to BSM, but also to St. John’s and St. Ben’s. His brothers and two of his nephews went to St. John’s, and his daughter and a niece went to St. Ben’s. These connections made Haeg think of BSM as his first choice for their visit. “In July [I] contacted Sue Skinner to see if BSM could help, and she was very enthusiastic,” said Haeg.

Having the approval of Dr. Skinner, the principal, he put the plans into action. It turns out that BSM is a perfect fit for this visit, with the shadow program, availability of host families, and the proximity to St. John’s.

This influx of students may seem like a strain on BSM’s already limited classroom space, but the students will only be shadowing for one day. “Sometimes we have twenty kids shadowing in one day…with kids being absent it kind of evens out,” said Dr. Skinner.

At the conclusion of the visit, the visitors have a little surprise planned. “The Japanese students ask[ed] to perform a brief program for BSM students and faculty in appreciation,” said Haeg. The program is to include song and dance, a tea ceremony, calligraphy, haiku reading, and a few other performances.

Haeg left for Kaisei Gakuin on October 14 to finalize the plans for the visit.