UNIVERSITY PLACE – For more than 20 years, Charles Wright Academy has been part of a cultural exchange program for students with Mukogawa University High School in Japan. The Japanese students arrived just this week and will spend the remainder of March living with host families and attending classes at the private school. Another group of Mukogawa students will arrive this summer for intensive language classes. In turn, Charles Wright students travel to Japan during Winterim, the school’s signature experiential learning program.
The partnership was founded by Gig Harbor resident and retired Japanese language teacher Yasko Wada, who had ties to the Japanese school.
Since its inception in the 1980s, more than 150 Charles Wright students have traveled to Japan for intensive language and cultural immersion. It has led to lasting friendships, as well as educational and career opportunities.
Today, the program is led by Stephanie Glenn, chair of the school’s World Languages department. Glenn began studying Japanese as a seventh grade student attending Charles Wright. Today she leads her own students on trips to the country.
As a teacher and a graduate of the program, she has a unique perspective on the program. When asked what it has meant to the students, she responds, “There are some things that can’t be taught in the classroom. We find that the learning process is so much richer for students, when they are totally immersed in a language and culture. That experience is what our visiting students look forward to experiencing. It’s also what my students love about their homestays in Japan.”