Kelly Dvorak, Maggie Whitely, Matt Gamble, Makena Tayler, and Winona Johnston are excited about their upcoming trip to Japan. (Tim Collins - Black Press Media)

Kelly Dvorak, Maggie Whitely, Matt Gamble, Makena Tayler, and Winona Johnston are excited about their upcoming trip to Japan. (Tim Collins - Black Press Media)

Sooke students travel to Japan

Mayor Tait will be meeting the students in Natori

A group of 21 students from Journey Middle School will have what for many will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as they travel to Japan on March 14.

The students will spend four days in Tokyo before travelling to Sooke’s friendship city, Natori, before returning to Sooke on the March 21.

It comes as part of a longstanding relationship with Natori that stretches back 20 years and which last year saw students from Natori travel to Sooke where they lived with local families for the duration of their visit.

RELATED: Local homes housed Japanese students

The same sort of arrangement will be in place this year as the Sooke students will be housed with local families in Natori, giving them a chance to experience local life.

“The students will be escorted around by families and will be doing activities with the schools there,” Kelly Dvorak, one of the three chaperone/supervisors of the trip, said.

“It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity. I’ve been there once before and before that my two daughters both went. It’s a trip they’re not going to ever forget.”

Maggie Whiteley, one of the students headed to Japan, finds it hard to contain her excitement.

RELATED: The last trip

“This is going to be amazing. The furthest from home I’ve ever been is Mexico and this is just so exciting,” Whiteley said.

For another student, McKenna Tayler, the trip is a chance to renew a friendship she made last spring when her family hosted a Natori student in their Sooke home.

“I’ve stayed in touch with her and it’s just going to be amazing to see where she lives and learn about her culture,” Tayler said.

In a singular development that sets this student outing apart from past trips, Mayor Maja Tait will be joining the students in Natori.

Her presence there comes as a result of an invitation from Natori (they are picking up all the expenses of the trip) to help move toward a formal sister-city arrangement.

“I could have gone at any time, during the Olympics, for example, but I thought it would be great to be there at the same time as some of our students were enjoying the culture. I’m looking forward to becoming part of that experience as well,” Tait said.

“These trips are so important. The world can seem a frightening place, but travel makes you more open minded, more inclusive in your thinking and creates a greater empathy for people outside your own country.”

Winona Johnston, another of the trips supervisors, agrees with Tait’s assessment.

“I see it as an educational, cultural experience; experiences that you wouldn’t get here. It’s going to open their eyes to other cultures and perhaps create an interest in more travel in the future,” she said

While Tait is in Natori, she will be paying close attention to their disaster preparedness.

On March 11, 2011, the City of Natori was hit hard by the tsunami that followed a devastating earthquake. The death toll in what followed was roughly equivalent to the entire population of Sooke.

“I’ll also be looking at their recycling and waste management. You can walk down the street in Tokyo and, even with that massive number of people, there’s probably less litter than in Sooke. I want to understand what it takes to get to that point.”



tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Sooke

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Nearly 2000 BC Hydro customers in East Sooke lost power around 1 p.m. on Jan. 20. (BC Hydro)
UPDATE: Power restored to nearly 2000 East Sooke residents after blasting

Blasting caused power pole to move and faulted the circuit Wednesday

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

The Victoria Fire Department extinguished a 15 foot tent fire in the 500-block of Ellice Street Jan. 19. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police investigating after 15-foot flames engulf tent

Flames damage nearby business in 500-block of Ellice Street

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Most Read