The 2015 cohort of the Kakehashi Program in Vancouver, BC

2015 Kakehashi Project: The bridge for tomorrow

Oct 22, 2015    Source: Chantal Moore

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Approximately 45 students from Shimodate Daiichi High School in Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo, were welcomed recently at the official residence of the Consul General of Japan in Vancouver, Mr. Seiji Okada. The students were visiting Canada – many of them for the first time – for one week from August 16 – 23 to participate in cultural and historical excursions and English language classes. The Exchange was run through the Kakehashi Project — an initiative promoted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs — and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada with support from the Consulate General.

History of the program

Kakehashi means “bridge” in Japanese, a symbol for how the Kakehashi Project connects students through mutual understanding. By providing firsthand experiences, students learn they have a “home” in each other’s countries. Language differences are minimized and similarities strengthened. Canada hosted the first group of Japanese students participating in the Project in 2013, when 25 people from Hagoromo Gakuen High School in Osaka spent 10 days in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler.

In June 2014, Shimodate Daiichi officially entered into a sister-school relationship with Seaquam High School in Delta, BC. A group of students from Seaquam visited Japan in November 2013 and, four months later, Shimodate students reciprocated with a visit to Metro Vancouver. BCCIE staff attended the reception for the 2015 intake of Shimodate students, many of whom were facinated by the beautiful nature and the cuisine.

"We don't actually have california rolls in Japan," one student laughed.

Similar undertakings for the K-12 sector

The Kakehashi Project is just one example of a well-organized youth exchange that teaches high school students cross-cultural competencies. BCCIE promotes similar initiatives, such as Shugaku Ryoko – short-term study tours of Japanese K-12 students into BC – and the BIEE International Student Summer Camp that sends BC youth to Beijing each year. For more information, visit our Events page and see the Japan Foundation website for an overview of the Kakehashi Project.