Brookhaven Innovation Academy and St. Martin’s Episcopal School have been chosen by the Office of the Ministry of Japan to take part in a 10-day cultural exchange program in Tokyo Japan.  A total of 18 eighth-grade students and five chaperones departed March 11 for this international cultural experience.

The program is funded by the Japanese government through the Kakehashi Project, a youth exchange program between Japan and the United States. The goal of the program is to promote a global understanding of Japan’s economy, society, history, diverse culture, politics and foreign policy.  

The trip will include visits to a number of historical and educational sites, museums and opportunities to experience traditional and cultural activities. The group will also enjoy a two-day “homestay” with Japanese host families for an immersive cultural experience.

Julie Tolbert, BIA’s Head of School, believes it is a good match. “We are honored and proud to be selected to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity.  To be able to travel to Japan at such a young age to learn about the culture and how to bring our nations and others together through our common bonds is priceless.”

In addition to the Kakehashi Project, middle school students at St. Martin’s also have the opportunity to participate in an annual exchange program with students in Panama City, Panama. “The addition of the Kakehashi Project to our middle school global studies program now allows our students a chance to exchange in two very different cultures – Panama and Japan,” notes Head of School Dr. Luis Ottley. “The opportunity for 8th-graders to experience another country and its culture is an invaluable supplement to their overall education. The homestay component is vital for students to truly experience and learn about the culture during their visit. We’re also excited to partner with BIA for this inaugural initiative for both schools.”

Jennifer Bradley, BIA’s Kakehashi lead agrees. “In the interconnected world in which we live, building “Bridges” to the many different cultures that compose our planet is essential in supporting the future of mankind.  The Kakehashi Project is a unique program allowing students to travel to Japan, which will equip our 8th-grade participants to become leaders and bridge builders. I am thrilled to facilitate this opportunity for our students, school and community.”

The students plan to blog and write about their experiences as a way to share it with their respective communities.

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