On Friday, Dempsey Middle School students welcomed a group of 20 students from Sakata, Japan, who will be staying and studying with them for the next several days.
Dempsey Principal Dan Bartha welcomed the group during a welcome assembly Friday afternoon that included the singing of both the Japanese and American national anthems.
“I’m so pleased we are all here today to welcome our visitors from Sakata, Japan,” Bartha said. He added this year marks the 21st anniversary of the partnership between Dempsey and Sakata.
“Our visitors from Japan will stay with Dempsey students and their families over the next few days, and they’ll get to experience the culture, activity, and daily life here in Delaware,” Bartha said. “We are truly appreciative to those students and their families who are opening their homes to our new friends.”
Bartha told Dempsey students that for the next few days, they have an opportunity to learn about another culture.
“They have traveled nearly 7,000 miles to be here, and year after year, this program has helped them solidify global connections,” Bartha said. “Thank you in advance for welcoming them with kindness and for demonstrating what makes Dempsey a great place, while also learning what you can about a culture that may be new to you.”
Sakata First Junior High School Principal Katsunori Matsumoto also gave a brief address to the student body.
“Thank you very much for a wonderful welcome ceremony,” Matsumoto said, adding the project has only been a success because of the understanding of the Dempsey community.
Matsumoto added his students are looking forward to the Dempsey Middle School experience.
“They all came here to experience and learn about differences in school and home life between Japan and America,” Matsumoto said. “However, they have been studying English only one-and-a-half years. It would be very helpful if you could kind of slow down when you speak.”
After the ceremony, the Sakata students went home with their host families.
Bartha said though the students will only been here for four days, the visit has a huge impact on students from both schools. Bartha said tears are common when the students say goodbye.
“These are lifelong memories,” Bartha said. “For them, it really is a global partnership. These are opportunities you can’t pass up. This is something the community should be proud off.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.