Cate in Japan

Cate students and faculty member Emilie Griffin pose during an outing. 

For two weeks in July, a cohort of Cate students traveled to Japan for a unique, immersive exchange with Cate's de facto sister school, Yakumo Academy. Yakumo is an all-girls high school 30 minutes south of Tokyo. The Cate students were welcomed into homestays, where they could practice their Japanese in informal settings with their host families. Each morning the students headed to Yakumo, where a full schedule introduced them to essential facets of Japanese culture. On their first day, the Cate students introduced themselves in front of the entire school and faculty in Japanese. Once the formalities were over they quickly settled into lessons of flower arranging, origami, haikus, karate, and Japanese cooking.

Between the cultural activities and their daily Japanese lessons, the Cate students were able to travel to several temples and landmarks, including the Tokyo Skytree, the Todai Temple, and the Fushimi Shrine. They also visited Kyoto and Arashiyama. Rising senior Nicah Driza said, "Seeing our sister school, Yakumo Academy, was definitely on my top list of highlights on this trip. Being able to meet other students and interact with them, as well as being able to partake in even a small part of their lives never failed to amaze me in the two weeks I was with them."

A group of Yakumo students show off their certificates in front of teachers David Wood and Carla Garcia Mason.

Two weeks after the Cate students returned, twenty Yakumo students arrived at Cate for their half of the exchange. While school was not in session, the girls followed a similar itinerary. They stayed with host families in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara for a cultural and linguistic immersion. They spent their days studying English. Anxiety-producing at first, they said that teachers David Wood and Carla Garcia Mason helped them become more confident in speaking. 

Just like the Cate students, the Yakumo girls had class during the day and excursions and activities in the afternoon. One girl, Azuki said that her favorite activity was surfing at Rincon, the iconic and world-rated surf spot just south of Carpinteria State Beach. Her classmate Minori, described horseback riding in Summerland with similar enthusiasm. 

Minori explained how she was surprised by how American students express their own opinions in class. Something she said more reserved Japanese students don't do. She was also surprised at public displays of affection, something she never sees in Japan. Azuki talked about the abundant nature areas the girls took advantage of and how visible the stars were at night compared to Japan. Both girls said they couldn't wait to tell their families about their experience at Cate.