Niles High students preparing to welcome Japanese visitors
By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A Niles High School class is busy preparing for the arrival of a small group from Japan who will be visiting Niles in March.
As part of the Chuzu Friendship Ambassador Exchange Program, two adults and eight students will get to experience a week of American life here in Niles.
From March 12 to March 20, the high school Japanese class has taken on the responsibility of welcoming the group and showing them around our community. Each of the ten visitors will be staying with a host family in Niles.
Teacher Kim Knoll said the ambassador program had been taking place in Berrien Springs for the past seven years.
Berrien Springs schools no longer participate in the program and the group from Japan wrote a letter to Niles expressing their interest in a visit.
Knoll thought this would be a great opportunity for the students to put their Japanese language skills to work.
The students are also excited about this unique opportunity.
The class of approximately 15 Niles students has spent the past month making plans for this visit.
On Monday morning, the class went over the final itinerary and worked on a large banner to be displayed at a welcoming banquet at the high school.
The group will arrive on Friday, March 12 and will be picked up at the airport and taken directly to the high school for the banquet at 6 p.m. This will provide an opportunity for the Japanese visitors to get to know the school and the students who will be showing them around.
On March 13, the visitors will be taken to IHOP for breakfast and spend the afternoon at University Park Mall.
The group will be given the opportunity to experience church if they choose to do so on Sunday, March 14. They will then be taken to Lake Michigan if weather permits. The plans include a stop at Warren Dunes, ice skating and a picnic in St. Joseph and an evening sunset on the beach.
On Monday, March 15, the Japanese visitors will get to experience a typical day in the life of a Niles student by shadowing one of the students at Niles High School.
Tuesday morning will include a tour of the city, city hall and Riverfront Park, followed by a noon optimist luncheon, and a tour of Notre Dame in the afternoon. At 6 p.m., the mayor will present the visitors with keys to the city at a formal banquet with city council members.
On March 17, the Niles Japanese class will take the group of visitors on a field trip to Chicago. The trip will include a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry and Navy Pier.
The Japanese students will shadow students at Ring Lardner Middle School on March 18 and spend the evening with their host families.
On Friday, March 19, the visitors will present a demonstration during seminar at Niles High School. There will be a farewell potluck banquet on Friday evening and the group will be returning to Japan on Saturday.
The class had to make this itinerary on a very small budget.
Martin said the class has been actively seeking donations for the visit and has gotten a good response.
Some of the donations include fresh fruit baskets from Shelton's, books from Majerek's and T-shirts from the Niles athletic boosters.
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