RVAS Cultural Exchange Benefits Two Schools

Rogue Valley Adventist School (RVAS) hosted 32 Japanese exchange students and two teachers from Hijiyama High School, a girls' high school in Japan, for two months this spring.

RVAS hoped for cultural enrichment and an opportunity to share God's love with non-Christians. The Japanese students wanted to improve their English skills, experience American culture and make American friends. Both groups met their goals—beyond expectations.

During their visit, the Japanese students put on a Japanese cultural program. About 400 people from the community attended. The program included dance presentations and a kimono show. The Japanese students also put on workshops about origami, food, hobbies and other Japanese cultural activities.

The RVAS students taught the Japanese girls how to ski. For two months, the Japanese girls went skiing every Thursday with RVAS students.

As time went by, the Japanese girls began spending more and more time in the RVAS classrooms instead of their own rooms with their own teachers. By the end of their visits, they were spending about two-thirds of the time in the RVAS classrooms.

David Davies, RVAS principal, was allowed to go into the Japanese classroom and tell the girls why RVAS is a Christian school and explain Adventist beliefs and about God. Several girls voiced an interest in learning more about God.

Near the end of the visit, the Japanese teachers had their students write about the greatest thing about their visit to Medford. The girls wrote that they "did not understand why my host family loves me without hypocrisy." One of the Japanese teachers was Christian and explained that none of the girls had experienced God's unconditional love before. When it came time for the visit to end, none of the girls wanted to leave.

Each day the Christian Japanese teacher participated in the teachers' worship. On her last day, she asked to pray. She explained she would be praying in her language. After the prayer, she explained she had given her new friends to God and had asked Him to bless them.

Hijiyama High School has asked that this first cultural exchange become an annual event, and RVAS is already planning for next school year.

July 01, 2004 / Oregon Conference