As HBA students returned from winter break, they may have noticed five new faces walking around campus or cheering with the junior class during Spirit Week. These students are from Clark Memorial High School, which is based in Japan and has locations around the world.

The students visiting HBA came from different Clark Memorial campuses and met for the first time at the Honolulu airport. Among these students were Yuna Kanada, Rintaro Okazaki, Yuki Yamazaki, Kohei Kikugawa (16), and Keiko Ookochi.

According to HBA faculty chaperone Betsy Feldman, HBA and Clark Memorial have a long history together. In 1996, Clark Memorial International High School and Hawaii Baptist Academy established a “Sister School Partnership,” which “fosters intercultural understanding and friendship between our two countries.” This year was the third consecutive year of the January Study and Homestay Program, which brings Clark Memorial students to HBA for about nine days.

Back in 2018, nine HBA juniors visited the Clark Memorial Tokyo campus during the fall break Japan trip. Six of those juniors—Summer Mae, Jessica Miyasato, Davin Nishiki, Kelsey Ota, Cobi Pimental, and Aimee Terashima—were paired with the Clark Memorial students during their visit to Hawaii. Pimental said, “I had the most fun because we went to Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, North Shore, and Dole Plantation to do the maze.” He added, “They taught us interesting things about Japan and a few Japanese words.”

During their time here, Clark Memorial students stayed with local families, including HBA guidance counselor Susan Goya. Goya, who housed two of the students, said, “They came with an agenda to learn our culture, what we eat, where we go, what we do, etcetera, so one evening they wanted to learn some of the card games we play. They were already familiar with Black Jack so we played Fish, War, Gin Rummy, Trumps, and Solitaire.” As for one of their go to places, she added, “They also ate at Zippy’s frequently.”

Student Services Secretary Sharon Darapiza also spent time with the students and taught them how to play the ukulele. She said, “My experience in teaching the students to play the ukulele was fun and rewarding. It was a simple piece, ‘Pearly Shells,’ and the students enjoyed learning the very basics of ukulele playing. They laughed after strumming the first few chords and their eyes sparkled and smiles widened when they individually played the entire song.”

Every day, the Japanese students had a packed schedule of activities. Not only did they spend time at HBA, but they also went to classic destinations such as the Ala Moana Shopping Center, Iolani Palace, Makapuu Lighthouse, and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. However, most of the group said that nothing could beat the excitement of HBA’s Spirit Week activities and Homecoming games. Goya added, “Rintaro and Kohei were excited by the Spirit Week games, wondering if HBA students played these games often.”

Darapiza concluded, “I enjoyed my time with these students and would welcome doing another class with the students from Clark Memorial Homestay.”