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Johnny Riordan’s Experience with High School Diplomats

An Exchange of Japanese and American Cultures

Johnny+Riordan%2C+junior+at+WAHS
Johnny Riordan, junior at WAHS

Johnny Riordan, junior at WAHS

Johnny Riordan, junior at WAHS

Johnny Riordan, Contributing Writer

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This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in a unique Japanese-American Exchange Program: High School Diplomats held at Princeton University. High School Diplomats sponsors 40 Japanese Students and 40 American Students to a 10-day diplomatic exchange. This program was unlike anything else I have ever participated in; I gained a best friend, met 79 amazing people, and learned about what it means and how to be a true high school diplomat.

My adventure began when my family hosted two Japanese Students at our house for 3 days before the program. I quickly formed a bond with my new friends, Kouhei and Tomoyoshi. I introduced them to friends, showed them around Charlottesville, and laughed throughout the whole trip. Not only did we teach them about American culture, but they were also able to show and teach my family so many amazing things throughout our three days together.

After the homestay, I met back up with them at Princeton for our ten day exchange. These ten days were a lifechanging experience, providing me with a new outlook on the world and all of the people that encompass it. Throughout the ten days, we participated in many activities, my favorites being a Japanese Culture Festival, Diplomat Talks, and a Halloween night. During the Japanese Culture Festival, we ate traditional Japanese snacks, performed a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, and learned how to do calligraphy. These activities allowed both American and Japanese students to further understand each other’s cultures.

Applications for HSD are found on their website (at bottom of the article). All sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. The application process has two parts: first, a written part with two short essays and information about yourself. The second part is an interview which will be conducted after the application deadline, January 8th, 2017. If you have any questions about the program, feel free to contact the program director, Celine Zapolski, at celinezapolski@highschooldiplomats.com  

I gained so much from participating in the High School Diplomats program. I learned about the unique Japanese Culture, and I realized that although these two nations are separated by such a large distance, their people are in many ways, very similar. Learn more and apply to participate in this program at www.highschooldiplomats.com. It truly is an experience of a lifetime.

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