International Program Updates

International Program Updates

ELD & ES Book Reading Exchange

For the past three years, the international students in Mr. Chris Ferry's English Language Development (ELD) communication class have visited the elementary students during International Education Week to share about their home culture. This year, the students worked on the speaking and reading skills by reading books to each other. Mr. Ferry shares his thoughts here on the book reading exchange.

Q: How and why do you bring the international students to the elementary school?

A: We've been doing a variety of activities with the elementary students for the past three school years for several reasons. First, we hope to build a stronger community where students know and work well together across grade levels. Second, having a real audience and authentic interaction is very helpful for our ELD students to develop their English proficiency. Third, it's valuable for our youngest students in Elementary school to learn about foreign cultures directly from our international students. Fourth, International Student Coordinator Stephanie Toriumi has been hard at work to make our community more globally minded and these exchanges developed from working closely with the ELD teachers and Elementary School Principal Edna Hussey.

Q: How was the book reading exchange organized?

A: For this specific book reading activity, high school ELD students spent about 2 hours preparing. They practiced reading the story in their own language with tips to become a better storyteller. They used their iPads to create a vocabulary presentation to teach a few words in their native language. The elementary school students chose a book that they wanted to share with the international student. When they met, the students had roughly 8 minutes to teach the vocabulary, read the story and answer any followup questions. After that, the local elementary student had about 5 minutes to read a story to the ELD student and do any follow-up discussion.

Q: What are some of the benefits of the interaction between elementary and international students?

A: We are observing, first and foremost, the quality of their interaction with the elementary school student. Are our ELD students comfortable opening a conversation? Can they ask questions comfortably? Can they rephrase what they are saying if the elementary student doesn't understand? Secondly, are they good storytellers? Third, are they good at listening and comprehending the story told to them by the elementary student. Finally, when they write a reflection, how do they feel about interacting in English with children. Since the international students have visited the elementary school a few times before to share about their cultural background, they remember the international students and it helps students on both sides to develop a stronger connection. Through this connection, the elementary teachers are able to incorporate international themes into their curriculum, which helps promote the students' interest and curiosity.

International Faculty & Staff Panel

Mid-Pacific's students are lucky to be surrounded by diversity everyday, studying alongside students from different countries, learning from faculty and interacting with staff from diverse cultural backgrounds. During International Education Week (Nov. 13-17, 2017) in Chapel, students were able to listen to first-hand experiences of living overseas from four faculty and staff members. 7th Grade Dean Mrs. Jessica Rose, Middle School Science Teacher Mr. Ryo Nagae, High School French Teacher Ms. Laura Blancq, and High School Spanish Teacher Mrs. Nancy Wysard shared their stories of culture shock and lessons learned abroad, helping us to understand the challenges that international students face everyday.

Mrs. Rose grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong for 5 years, where she was classmates with children from around the world. That unique upbringing as a third culture kid was the bond that reunited her to her now husband, whom she met in Singapore at age 4. She now lives with her husband in Hawaii and said, "I came to Hawaii through my sense of adventure and whimsy, but have ended up making Hawaii my home because of the richness in diversity and celebration of Asian cultures. Being surrounded by diversity became my norm, so much so, that being surrounded by people who only look like me makes me feel out of my element."

Mr. Nagae, who also grew up as a third culture kid in the U.S. and in Japan, spoke about the steep learning curve that he faced adapting to a new culture; and shared anecdotes such as figuring out how to stop the bus, to finding out what the pidgeon word "brah" means, to feeling completely alone without his family and friends closeby. Mrs. Wysard also reflected on her first year of high school in Hawaii after moving from Puerto Rico, and talked about the struggles that she faced in U.S. History not understanding the English language.

As Ms. Blancq said, "If everyone spent a year exploring other countries, living outside of their comfort zone, adapting to other people's customs, the world would be a much better, happier and more peaceful place, and we would appreciate one another and what we have at home so much more." Even though the panelists' did not know each other well at the beginning, the sharing of their international experiences brought them together because they connected with each other in ways that others may not have. It was a sharing of learning, and students were able to learn the value of our international diversity at Mid-Pacific.


Panelists speaking in Chapel

Educators visit from Chigasaki, Japan

In perfect timing with International Education Week, three educators from Chigasaki City, Japan visited Mid-Pacific from November 15-17, 2017. The educators came after Honolulu Mayor Kirk Cadwell visited Chigasaski City, Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan in September to renew sister city ties established in 2014.

Mr. Chikaraishi, teacher's consultant from the Chigasaki Board of Education, Tsurugadai Junior High School teacher Mr. Kanzaki, and Matsunami Elementary School teacher Mr. Yagi came to Oahu to promote international exchange and learn about the education system in Hawaii. Many students and teachers were surprised to learn that Chigasaki makes their own aloha shirts as Japan's surfing capital. Chigasaki City embraces the aloha spirit as host to the World Invitational Hula Festival and council members wearing aloha shirts to assembly meetings.

Mr. Kanzaki shared a video that his students had made about Chigasaki and students discussed the differences in school life between Hawaii and Japan. Mr. Yagi introduced "Chigasaki karuta" a twist on the traditional Japanese card game, created by his students in English. While he read a poem, the students had to find the card with the illustration that matched the line of poetry.

They also met with various staff members to talk about different aspects of the school including the use of technology, teacher training, parent community association, athletics, learning support, and character education in order to learn how to increase the number of English classes and make improvements to the traditional Japanese teaching syle.

Global Ambassadors x Globetrotters Club Cross-cultural Workshop

In celebration of International Education Week, local student Global Ambassadors led a cross-cultural workshop to help international students realize the differences in communication style in the U.S. and their home countries. Over 20 international students joined the discussion on indirect and direct communication, and how to react using the DAE model for cross-cultural situations.

The Global Ambassadors explained how we all often tend to jump to analyzing and evaluating without first describing a situation, which can lead to misconception or miscommunication. First describe what happened, then think about different perspectives, and lastly reflecting on your own and the other person's feelings, before acting or saying something offensive in a different culture.

D = describe what you see

A = analyze to help explain what you see

E = evaluate and think about how what you see makes you feel

The Global Ambassadors walked the international students through the following 3 scenarios. Can you guess the answer to these riddles?

Scenario 1:

A & B were hanging out with a group of American friends. One of the Americans asks B for help on a big project even though they know how busy he is and he agrees. When they leave, B is very upset and thinks it so rude that they asked. A is shocked and doesn't understand why B said yes.

(B agrees to help to help his Americans friends save face. In B's culture, it's inappropriate to say no when someone is asking for help. In A's culture, it would be appropriate to say no directly.)

Scenario 2:

You are at a restaurant and the waitress offers you the soup of the day. You say "That sounds nice." She brings you the soup. You didn't order it so you laugh. After the meal, you ask for the check. The waitress brings it together with four sweets. You wonder why she is so rude. You pay and get ready to leave. The waitress gives you a hostile stare.

(Four is not a good number in some cultures, where the number four "shi" means "death" and bad luck. The waitress stares at you expecting you to pay tip. Tip is part of American culture.)

Scenario 3:

Two American girls are living with a homestay family. They are messy but have kept their mess limited to their bedroom. Their host mom tells the girls one day that they are expecting visitors who want to see the bedroom. The girls shove their mess into the closet. A day later, the girls learn that no guests are coming. The girls are furious and hurt. The homestay mom is also furious and hurt.

(The host mom expects the girls to clean and tells them to clean in an indirect way. She is upset that the girls just shove their mess into the closet. The girls do not understand and feel that their host mom lied to them.)

Hiroshima Students Research Project

Four students in the 11th grade visited Mid-Pacific from Hiroshima Prefectural Junior/Senior High School on October 6. Hiroshima Prefectural Junior/Senior High School is one of 11 Super Global High Schools in Japan for 2016-17, selected by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to foster global leaders through internationalization. High school students in the program are required to conduct fieldwork both domestically and internationally on a research project. They interviewed Vice President of External Affairs Mr. Scott Siegfried, asking questions for their research project on U.S. education.


Shunya: My research topic is on the school environment and how it affects our learning. How does the way of teaching affect student's way of thinking?

Mr. Siegfried: Each school has its own philosophy of learning or approach to teaching, and students think and respond to the type of teaching differently. At Mid-Pacific, we focus on student-centered learning because we want our students to be prepared and have these skills by the time they graduate.

  • Maintain a positive mindset and belief in the value of persistence in learning
  • Self-assess and monitor their own progress and understanding, and communicate the quality of their learning to others, formally and informally
  • Build social-emotional awareness and empathy in an increasingly interconnected world
  • Nurture, sustain, and steward the environment and community in which they live
  • Apply creativity and imagination to problem solving
  • Collaborate with and positively impact global peers
  • Communicate effectively using multiple mediums -- spoken, written, artistic, and digital
  • Embrace appropriate risks and opportunities to help solve novel problems
  • Collect and analyze data from disparate disciplines in order to apply new solutions

Ryo: I am focusing my research on improving education in Japan. How can we make students more interested in studying?

Mr. Siegfried: We want students to take ownership of their learning instead of teachers lecturing and feeding them information. Students learn from their peers and teachers by getting feedback and presenting their own learning.

Ryo: In Japan, people tell us to always work together and stay together to create unison. How do you think independence affects student thinking?

Mr. Siegfried: Students need to be given independence to learn and grow on their own. The only way to learn is from taking risks and not being afraid to fail. Our students are each given iPads from elementary school and learn to become responsible thinkers.

Shunya: That's impressive. In Japan, we are not allowed to have iPads until high school. What is the difference between letting elementary vs. high school students use iPads?

Mr. Siegfried: The iPad is a learning tool and doesn't replace learning in the classroom. It's used to get and find information faster and allows students in different grade levels to present their learning in different ways, depending on their capabilities.


Shoko: I want to know more about the types of research projects students do in school.

Mr. Siegfried: Projects should be authentic, relevant, and meaningful for students so that they develop a deeper understanding of the work. Our teachers allow students to pursue projects of their interest on their own and connect it to learning. For example, in the Mid-Pacific eXploratory program (MPX) class, each student pursued different themes - food, travel, nature, environment - all related to the lesson of sustainability. One project focused on the question of how can we create sustainable transportation in Hawaii, and gathering opinions and feedback from those who work in the field led to them build an electronic bike.

Shoko: Wow. Do you think multimedia is important?

Mr. Siegfried: Yes, the use of multiple mediums is important to show learning in multiple ways. As a matter of fact, communicating effectively using multiple mediums is one of the skills we list in our Mid-Pacific Learner Profile (see above).


Miku: My research focuses on stress levels at school. Do the students feel stressed? If so, how do students relieve stress here? In Japan, we have a lot of stress because our parents have high hopes for us and we want to exceed their expectations.

Mr. Siegfried: I think we ask a lot of our students so it's always important to try to balance need with content in terms of how much material you teach. We look at different ways of assessment and evaluation for the students.

Miku: How do the teachers relieve their stress here?

Mr. Siegfried: Today, there are no students on campus because it is our professional development day for teachers to get training and we have an un-conference where the faculty are sharing their own research with each other.

Miku: I see, that's a great way for the teachers to learn from each other too.

All: Thank you. We learned a lot today and excited to present what we learned with our peers tonight.

Hiroshima HS Students

From left: Ms. Toriumi, HCC student, Miku, Shoko, Ryo, Shunya, Mr. Siegfried


Stephanie Toriumi International Student Coordinator