Let the record book show that the children who make up Rosemary Petrucci’s fourth grade class at Winsor Hill Elementary School are now known as Johnston’s Ambassador’s to Japan.
Let the record book show that those children, who are mostly ages 8 and 9 communicated extremely well and on the same level as college students who attend Nagoya Gakuin University in Japan.
Let the record book also show that Petrucci’s fourth graders will forever remember the opportunity to engage in learning about the history, culture, tradition of a foreign land.
“Amazing…it’s amazing the words these children are using to describe their unique international exchange, especially with college students from another country,” a visitor to Petrucci’s class last Thursday offered. “It’s safe to say these kids are learning much, much more than their ABCs.”
Petrucci explained how the rare opportunity to correspond with college students in Japan who were learning English and their teacher, a professor at Nagoya Gakuin University, spear-headed a “Global Summit Postcard Exchange” and asked her class to participate.
“The outcome was amazing,” Petrucci exclaimed last Thursday. “Our students identified elements of our culture and geography as well as similarities and differences about our culture and geography s compared to Japan.”
Each student in Petrucci’s class wrote a post card that was featured at a New Year’s display at Nagoya Gakuin University’s International Center for Learning. When Winsor Hill students returned from winter vacation they were treated to what Petrucci called “a special package” from those Japan college students.
“Each of our fourth graders then received an individualized letter written in English, by a Japanese college student in Professor Pendall’s class,” Petrucci said. “The results have been nothing less than thrilling for our students.”
Just how, though, did what Petrucci and other Winsor Hill teachers and staffers call “an extraordinary international exchange and experience” come into being?
“We have a relationship with Professor Patrice Pendell,” Rayna Ciano, a Math Interventionist who introduced the program last September, explained. “Several years ago Mrs. Petrucci and I participated in her Warrior Doll Cultural Exchange Project. She is a professor of English in Japan and devised the project as a way to enrich and immerse her freshmen college level English students in our language and culture.”
This time around, Pendell had what Ciano and Petrucci called “another exciting idea” and invited the Winsor Hill students to participate in a grand scheme global summit postcard exchange.
Ciano and Petrucci spent six weeks teaching about Japan and using various web sites and books to learn about the country, it’s people, language, landforms, history, food, education and comparing it to the Rhode Island.
“Together we planned and infused all subjects into our daily Japan lessons,” said Ciano. “The letters and postcards were crafted with careful consideration and pride and the global project took place from Dec. 1-8, 2017.”
From there, Pendell sent pictures of their event in Japan and the Winsor Hill student’s postcard were displayed throughout college classrooms at Nagoya Gakuin University.
Last Thursday, visitors to Petrucci’s class were surrounded by reminders of that postcard exchange and the students even reminisced about the experience with special feelings toward their college pen pals. They shared the personalized letters they received from the Japanese college students with a guest who was, as Ciano and Petrucci later noted “Overwhelmed and impressed with the grammar and writing styles the Winsor Hill students used during the project.”
People have marveled while looking over the beautiful variety of colored origami (rocks) each Japanese student sent to a Winsor Hill student as part of the exchange.
“Our new friendship with students in Japan continues to promote learning about their culture,” said Petrucci. “Models of kindness rocks, made by Professor Pendell’s students, showcased positive messaging including Peace, Love and Joy written in Japanese characters.”
As a guest that took in Petrucci’s class remarked: “That project was as solid as an origami (rock); these Winsor Hill kids will now be known as Johnston’s Ambassadors of Goodwill to Japan.”