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Fun times:Cultural teacher Daniela Zanet (center) with students from Westfields Sports (left to right) Lorraine B, 16, Jancy T, 17, Stephen D, 17, Linh L, 17, and Bem V, 16. They all got to travel on a train at 280 kmh. Picture: Helen Nezdropa
"Students as fast as a speeding bullet"
By Anita Magilcic

HIGH fashion, meditation with a monk, taking shoes off before entering school and heated toilet seats were some of the culture shocks Westfields Sports students received when they visited Japan.
And they loved every minute of it.
Six HSC students who study Japanese language and culture went with the school’s junior baseball players to Asia for the 11-day tour in the school holidays.
They were hosted by three Japanese high schools, and had the chance to visit Tokyo Disneyland, Mount Fuji and several temples and shrines.
Cultural student Linh Le, 17, said she was already saving up to travel there again.
As the students stayed with families during the trip, she said she felt Japan
to be her second home.
“It’s definitely the best experience I’ve
ever had and I want to go back,” she said.
Like her classmates, she fondly remembers when the students participated in a Zaren meditation session with a monk.
It was memorable even though they said their legs were in pain from sitting crossed legged with soles of their feet entwined for up to 15 minutes.
Cultural teacher and chaperone, Daniela Zanet, said she was impressed with the degree of interaction and conversational skills the students used.
“They were all nervous to begin with but after they got comfortable and used different vocabulary, they used a lot of the language,” she said.
“It was different from learning out of the textbook.”
But the students grasped more than just the language.
When they were hosted by high schools, Kasukabe Kyoei High School, Musashi Ogase Senior High School and Kyoto Gakuen, they experienced traditional customs including bowing to greet teachers and taking shoes off as a sign of respect.
The students said their lives were very different from that of teenagers in Japan.
“They finish school at 3pm but do club activities like volleyball until 6pm,” said one student.
“And it’s not like they watch telly and have dinner. It’s really family orientated, as after school they spend time with their family.”
With thanks to

Wednesday 10th May 2006
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