East meets West as “Cultural Homestay” Japanese students visit Havering, meet Mayor

A group of Japanese students said “konnichi wa” to Havering this month.

The 17 teenagers on the “Cultural Homestay in Europe” (CHE) programme, which organises annual trips to Europe for international students, enjoyed a special town hall reception where they met Mayor Cllr Lynden Thorpe in her robes, performed a Japanese song and exchanged gifts.

They also signed the town hall visitors’ book.

“It was really lovely,” said group co-ordinator Stephanie Nunn. “The Mayor gave a short talk which was translated by [Japanese teacher] Mayumi and then the students asked questions they had prepared in English.

“We then went to the parlour where the students were impressed to see a photograph of the Mayor’s father, who was mayor 60 years ago.”

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The group spent 10 days with host families across Havering – marking the first time a CHE group has visited the borough. The students visited the Olympic Village and central London, as well as learning about the local area.

Programme director Craig Witney, who lives in Havering, said he was hoping to recruit host families for a similar trip in March 2013, which will involve about 20 Japanese students aged 15 to 16. If you are interested in hosting a student, please visit www.culturalhomestay.org.

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