SMUS Student Shining on Japan Exchange

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by Dawn Wilson, Director of Education Extension

Keenan Manhas has been studying at Fukuoka Daiichi High School in Fukuoka, Japan since September of last year. He worked very hard to complete his academic Grade 10 courses before he left, cramming English, Math and Science into an intense summer before departure.

Although North American international students begin their studies in September, the Japanese school year officially begins in April. Keenan was chosen to represent all of the international students at the school to make an address to the Principal at the official Opening Ceremonies on April 9th. I was able to watch him rehearse for the event, as the head teacher took him through his paces. He had to learn how to bow correctly (not too deep, not too shallow, back straight); how to unfold the paper in his pocket correctly and wrap it back up again, when to turn, where to look, and how to speak (strong, powerful voice).

For the occasion, Keenan wore the Fukuoka Daiichi uniform, and got to sit in the front row along with Maki Sudo, the student representing the other first years. Keenan made his address in the Fukuoka University gymnasium, to a packed crowd of 1500 students, parents, and other family members. The opening ceremonies are a very important event for a first year high school student in Japan.

Keenan is enjoying his time at Fukuoka Daiichi immensely. When asked what the highlight has been so far he replied, “There really isn’t one thing that stands out, because it has all been awesome.” Jason Van der Velde, the International Student Advisor at Fukuoka Daiichi, echoes his comment. “Keenan is an excellent student and has been using his time wisely. He has made many friends and is very involved in the school.”

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