Forty-Eight Portland Public School 8th graders from the dual language immersion program at Mt. Tabor Middle School recently returned from two weeks in Japan (April 17-May 1). It was their "Japanese Research Residency," an annual part of the Japanese immersion program since 1998.
They spent time in the small, rural town of Asago, in the rural part of Hyogo prefecture (here), about one and half hours north of Kobe, and in the city of Hiroshima. In Hiroshima, they visited nuclear bomb related sites and spoke with a bomb survivor. For the students, this is not a simple "tour" but an in depth experience of people and places. They live with Japanese families.
Mt. Tabor Japanese immersion teacher Matt Bacon-Brenes was the residency leader. There were also one additional teacher, one administrator, six parents, and one retired teacher on the residency, for a total of 58. Costs for the residency was in the $2-3,000 per person/student range. As chaperones with responsibilities, the parents had their airfares paid. PPS pays only for the salaries of its staff. The parent group for the Japanese immersion program, Oya No Kai, raises funds for significant scholarships for some students.
For many students, this "residency" will be the most profound experience of their PK-12 education.