Burris Laboratory School students have a close connection to Japan’s Okazaki Primary School and were particularly touched by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11. Thanks to the generosity of Andrew and Jennifer Dale, parents and supporters of the Burris/Okazaki Exchange Program, a banner encouraging people to give to the Red Cross was designed and posted in the school’s front yard.
In 1997 former Ball State University President John E. Worthen and a Dr. Yoshitake Yoneda, principal of Japan’s Aichi Laboratory School, created an elementary student exchange program between Burris and the Okazaki Primary School. The primary purpose of this program is to promote global learning. Exchanges between Burris Laboratory School and Okazaki Primary School have taken place for many years. An agreement of understanding drafted in 1997 proclaims that elementary students from Japan are to come to Muncie, Indiana, every other year and elementary students from Burris Laboratory School are to travel to Japan in the alternate years. Due to a lack of funding, this well-planned and very worthwhile cultural exchange did not take place between September 2004 and August 2007. In the winter of 2007, teachers and administrators at Burris and Okazaki Primary School made a commitment to renew the exchange program. The administrators, teachers, and interested parents at Burris immediately began to raise funds to support the exchange. Students and teachers from Japan visited Burris in the fall of 2008, and Burris students traveled to Japan in the spring of 2009. Four adults and twenty students from our sister school in Japan visited Burris again from October 1 through October 8, 2010. The children were housed with families that provided most meals. Burris students are tentatively scheduled to travel to Japan in the fall of 2011. This trip is currently on hold due to the environmental and health issues in Japan.
“This exchange is an enriching endeavor; the kind of experience that transforms lives, expands ideals, sharpens perspectives and enhances cultures. It’s a proven fact: intentionally structured foreign exchange programs break down cultural barriers and reinforce shared values,” said Jay McGee, principal at Burris. “We are glad to be able to continue this partnership with Okazaki Primary School.”
Pictured in the photo below are Burris students in Grades 4-5 and students in upper grades that either went to Japan or hosted students as a part of the exchange program.