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Japanese exchange student program brings home global learning and issues


-- Holy Cross Catholic School hosts students from Japan --


GREEN BAY, WI (31 March 2011) When Holy Cross Catholic School students learn about world cultures, they do more than just open a book or surf the internet.

Five brave little Japanese girls, their American teacher, and his wife and their two daughters are journeying halfway around the world to engage in a cultural exchange right here in Northeast Wisconsin. Holy Cross Catholic School, 3002 Bay Settlement Road in Green Bay, is hosting the seven children (ages 5-11) from Japan from Monday, March 28 through Friday, April 8.

HCCS students are especially interested in Japanese culture after seeing the media coverage of and praying for all the people affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan this past month. The exchange students live in an area of Japan that was minimally affected by the disasters. Principal Robin Jo Jensen said that the obvious educational value of this experience is that it provides all the children involved with a chance to learn firsthand about world current events and to experience a totally different culture.

"This project encompasses many of the 21st Century Learning Skills that we strive to teach our students, specifically a global view in our classrooms and an education where students have a deep understanding of content," commented Mrs. Jensen. "This visit from our Japanese friends will provide that deep level of understanding, by immersing our students in the Japanese culture and our visiting students in the American culture."

This is the second year of the Japanese Exchange Student program at Holy Cross Catholic School. Mrs. Jensen said that she is not aware of another program like this one at the grade school level.

The Japanese exchange students will be staying with an American host family during the visit so that they can be immersed in an American family dynamic. Throughout the week the students will be attending classes, masses, assemblies, Stations of the Cross--everything that a normal HCCS student would do. They will also be giving presentations to each of the classes about their culture, their school, and their family life.

Mrs. Jensen maintains that there are additional lessons to be learned from the exchange that are just as important as appreciating cultural diversity, and these lessons are perhaps more far-reaching:

"In all we do here at Holy Cross, we strive to teach our students that they're really not so different from one another at all," commented Mrs. Jensen. "No matter what country we come from, no matter what language we speak, we are all children of God. This tenet of faith is what we believe makes all the difference in the world, one child--or, in this case, 214 children--at a time."

About Holy Cross Catholic School
Located on the growing northeast side of Green Bay at the historic crossroads of Church and Bay Settlement Roads, Holy Cross Catholic School is the point at which faith, community and education converge. The school educates children within the Catholic faith and provides them with opportunities to develop the values, attitudes and skills that will enable them to become vital members of the community. Holy Cross Catholic School has been in existence for 142 years and has an enrollment of 208 students in grades EC3 to 8th grade. For more information, please visit the school's website: www.holycrossfamily.org.

About GRACE
The Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) system is the largest Catholic school system in Wisconsin. A collaborative school ministry of the 23 Green Bay area Catholic parishes, GRACE was formed in 2008 to provide affordable, high quality Catholic early childhood, elementary and middle-school education. It serves 2728 students at ten neighborhood school sites located throughout the Green Bay area. Over 125 students of other faith denominations attend the GRACE schools. The GRACE system employs over 250 people with a total annual community investment of $10.5 million. The system has just completed a three-year planning and consolidation process that involved the 23 faith communities, parents and staff. It will assume full school operations on July 1, 2011.

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