Konnichiwa! As I write this our 9th-11th grade students are currently in the midst of a weXplore trip that should prove to be the highlight in a long list of place-based learning experiences that we’ve engaged in since arriving in Japan. Each term at THINK Global School usually involves one big weXplore trip to go alongside a series of smaller ones: our term in Germany included an “Amazing Race” across multiple European countries; India saw us traveling throughout its northern regions by train, and our time in the United States included a highly popular visit to New York. Up until this point, our weXplore activities in Japan have provided us with an opportunity to experience facets of both ancient and modern culture. We’ve hiked down the ancient pilgrimage trails of the Kumano Kodo and explored Japan’s old capital, Kyoto. Now we are capping things off in style with a six-day visit to the pinnacle of urban modernity and Japan’s current capital city, Tokyo.
Personal Exploration Projects and Digital Portfolios
During their time in Tokyo, each 9th and 10th grade student will be working on their Personal Exploration Project (PEP). These multidisciplinary projects were begun in February and include an aspect of Japanese life as a focus( such as the history of the geisha), paired with a TGS lens (such as culture) through which to center the research on. Each of the activities that has been planned for the Tokyo trip will provide an excellent opportunity for our students to engage in place-based learning while also contributing to their PEP.
The 11th grade students will be using their time in Tokyo to contribute to their digital portfolios. Each students’ digital portfolio is meant to showcase their experiences as a traveling learner; it also serves to provide clear, reflective documentation of the TGS experiences that have occurred throughout their high school career. As our students progress on to higher education and eventually the workforce , their digital portfolios will play a critical role in illustrating the impact their travels have had on them and conversely the sustainable impact that they have had on the locations they’ve visited through activities such as volunteering and service-learning.
Our time in Tokyo will also include a truly unique cultural experience for our students, in that they will each be participating in a homestay with a local family over the weekend. The homestay will provide our students with an opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture and life in Tokyo through direct experiences with those living here. Each student will spend all day and night on Saturday with their host family before returning to Hiroshima by train on Sunday.
So where are we going?
Activities are planned for the following locations (plus more):
To add a creative element to the trip, each of our school’s five houses has been provided with a polaroid camera and assigned one of the letters in T-O-K-Y-O. It is up to the students in each house to decide what the subject of their letter will be:
T could stand for transit, and include photos of students’ packing themselves into a busy rail car
O could stand for Opulence, and include photos of demure women in Shibuya clutching their designer handbags
K could stand for kids, and include photos of kids playing in Tokyo’s parks
Y could stand for Yokohama, and include photos of their experiences
O could stand for Oshikata, and include photos of delicious meals
The opportunities here are limitless, and if there is one thing that our students have proven, it’s that creativity courses through their veins. We look forward to sharing with you the outcome of this collective project in the near future. For now, you can follow along with their adventures using the hashtag #TGSTOKYO on Instagram or by visiting the #TGSTOKYO tagboard.