The Concord-Nanae Student News Exchange Begins

By Ben Mirin, CIR

April 25th, 2011

Hitomi Shihoya

On April 11th, Concord-Carlisle High School’s student newspaper, The Voice, published its first article submitted by a student from Nanae High School.  Second-year student (high school junior) Hitomi Shihoya of the Nanae High School English Club wrote about her experience of Japan’s terrible earthquake last month and her reflections on its aftermath.

“I was very surprised because I had never seen such a large-scale earthquake in my whole life,” Shihoya writes.  “I came back to everyday life in a few days, but I am very anxious because I don’t know when the next natural disaster will happen. I am also very worried about more aftershocks, and the nuclear radiation in Fukushima.”

Shihoya’s article also expresses personal gratitude toward the US and other foreign nations that contributed to Japan’s relief efforts following the disaster. The complete text of her article can be seen on The Voice‘s website.

This publication marks the launch of what will hopefully become an ongoing exchange between high school students in Concord, Carlisle, and Nanae.  The projects’ orchestrators–the CIR and the faculty advisors to The Voice and the English Club–hope eventually to establish a written cross-cultural dialogue between students in both towns on at least a monthly basis.

Concord-Carlisle High School and Nanae High School are officially sister schools.  Official visits and home-stays between the schools’ bands and the CCHS Sci-Fi Club have been centerpieces in the rich history of the Concord-Nanae sister city relationship.  The Student News Exchange, as the project is tentatively titled, is intended to bring two more student organizations, the English Club and The Voice, more deeply into that framework.

Preparations for this project began back in mid-February, when I sat down to discuss the idea with the faculty advisor to NHS’s English Club, Michiru Sakurai.  She and I agreed that this project would provide an excellent opportunity for students to practice their written English, and so we began generating ideas for story prompts to assign to the club.

At the end of the month, our students left for a 2-week break with their first writing assignment: in 150 English words, write about your favorite activity or place to visit in Nanae. They leapt at the opportunity, and produced a collection of pieces that we hope will get published over the next few months.

This plan is, of course, subject to change, particularly during the continuing aftermath of the March 11th disaster.  Our students’ feelings on what to write could easily shift, and we want to keep their interests at the project’s center so that it can evolve as a truly student-driven initiative.

NHS has no student newspaper.  Therefore, exactly where CCHS students’ articles will be published–and whether they will be translated into Japanese–remains in question.  Michiru-sensei says she will print the articles and distribute them by hand while the project gains momentum.

Already the project is making headway.  Since Hitomi Shihoya’s article was published, CCHS English faculty member and advisor to The Voice Kate Lee-Dubon and the paper’s senior student editors have begun working directly with the English Club and Michiru-sensei, and a new section titled Nanae-Concord has been added to newspaper’s homepage.

The recent return of Nanae’s CIR and the start of a new school year in Japan should bring yet another surge of energy to the Student News Exchange.  As we focus during these early stages on content generation in Nanae, we hope that this project will mark a new milestone in the Concord-Nanae sister school relationship, and bring students of Nanae, Concord, and Carlisle closer together.♦


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