Micronesia/Japan Student Exchange Program


2012 Japan/Micronesia Student Exchange Program accomplished on Pohnpei

On the night of their arrival, July 25, 2012, a welcoming reception was given at the State Administration Building, honoring the twenty-four (24) member Japan delegation that came to Pohnpei for the 2012 Japan/Micronesia Children Exchange Program.  Both Governor John Ehsa and Ambassador Eiichi Suzuki were at the welcoming reception to officially welcome the delegation and give their blessings to the group, initiating their activities during their stay from July 25, 2012 to July 31, 2012 here in Pohnpei.

The 24-member delegation consisted of sixteen (16) students from various grade schools in Tokyo, two (2) chaperones, one (1) translator, one (1) nurse, two (2) organizers, one (1) observer, and the Director, Mr. Shuichi HIRATA, Head of the NYC Program Division, National Institution for Youth Education, Japan.

The local students who went to Japan for the same program in June this year and last year and their families were present at the welcoming ceremony.  The Social Affairs Administrator, Mrs. Janet Panuelo and the staff of the office of social affairs were at the reception.

In the welcoming ceremony, Governor Ehsa welcomed the delegation and pledged that Pohnpei would do everything in its capacity as host to complement the purpose of the trip.  Ambassador Suzuki acknowledged the welcome and thanked Governor Ehsa for that.  He extended Japans’ appreciation for this gesture of friendship and bilateral relations.

In their seven-day excursion here in Pohnpei, the students and their chaperones visited the Japan Embassy in Kolonia, Kepirohi waterfalls, the Nan Madol ruins, stayed on Nahlap Island for two nights, did some environment clean-up activities, hiked the Sokehs ridge to see the old Japanese guns, and stayed with host families for one night.

The excursion started on July 26, 2012 as they visited Kepirohi waterfall, Nan Madol Ruins and went to Nahlap Island for a two-night stay.

During their site visits, both the local students and the Japanese students enjoyed the special associations they fashioned along the way, most especially during their stay on Nahlap Island. They spent two nights there.

On Nahlap, with a lot of energy, the children picked trash together, played volleyball together, went swimming together and did a lot of cultural exchange activities.  The Japanese children had the chance to weave local kiam (coconut-leaf basket), husk coconuts, and even tried the coconut meat.

On their last night at the Nahlap Resort, Hon. Johnny P. David, former Governor of Pohnpei State and who also owns Nahlap Resort, and his family hosted a farewell dinner that ignited fire within the children as they ate mangrove crab placed in pwaht (coconut-leaf plates), danced with the family hula dancers and chanted around the campfire that was ignited by id (local fire making). The students left Nahlap on July 28, 2012 right after breakfast. 

From Nahlap they went straight to the Dekehtik coast way to pick up trash.  Cleaning up trash is a required activity for this program.  The students must do trash cleaning where ever and whenever they can.  After they cleaned up what trash they could lay their hands on at the causeway, they went to the China Star Hotel for Lunch.

On July 29, 2012 the group went to the Sokehs ridge to view the Japanese Guns and the old Japanese Search light site situated on the Sokehs ridge. Today, the site is where the Telecom antenna or transmitter and the Pohnpei Public Safety antenna are erected.

After the Sokehs ridge tour the Japanese students went back to their Hotel, the Cliff Rainbow Hotel, and got packed before they were picked up by families that were assigned to host their home stay.  In the Home Stay Program, two students were assigned to one family for an overnight stay. 

The home stay activity was an opportunity for the Japanese kids to observe the normal every day activities that typical Pohnpeian families usually do at home.  It required three meals from the host family.  The three meals included a dinner, a lunch and a breakfast before they were brought back to their hotel.  So the Japanese students were picked up by their host family at noon on July 29 and were returned to Cliff Rainbow hotel before noon the next day, July 30, 2012. All of the kids and the chaperones expressed appreciation for the accommodation provided to them by the host families.

The farewell reception took place in the State Administration Conference Room again in the evening of the same day they returned from their home stay.  Social Affairs Administrator, Mrs. Janet Panuelo, Youth Program Coordinator, Person Joseph, and the rest of the Social Affairs staff were at the reception.  Families of the local students were there, too.

Administrator Panuelo and Director Hirata exchanged remarks reiterating appreciation and gratitude to each counterpart for a program well executed this year. 

Mrs. Panuelo stated in her remarks that she could tell that there had been a bond established between the Japan team and the Pohnpei team.  One could easily notice a smooth interaction between the two students as they shared everything together; food, laughter, pictures, jokes, etc. She also said that “the supposed to be happy ending farewell reception is sad because everyone knows their time together is ending.”

In his farewell remarks, Mr. Hirata thanked Governor John Ehsa; Ambassador Eiichi Suzuki; Administrator Janet Panuelo; staff of the Office of Social Affairs; Nahlap Island Resort, most especially John David; the Cliff Rainbow Hotel, most especially Chris Christian; local students and their families; the bus drivers; and all who assisted directly or indirectly to the smooth and successful flow of this year’s program. 

The program almost couldn’t end as the sharing of food, pictures, dances and exchange of email addresses blended in with the friendly environment that filled the room. However hard to end the program, it came to an end at about ten o’clock that night.

The hardest part for the kids was the departure on July 30, 2012.  Tears were actually shed by both students as hugs and hand-shaking were exchanged at the departure gate.  The Japan delegation left Pohnpei at 11:40 PM, July 30, 2012.  “SAIONARA.”


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