Friends from Japan

Continuing more than two decades of international exchange with the schools of Yukuhashi, Japan, in October, Grace greeted 15 Japanese students. A fresh-faced group of 7th, 8th and 9th graders settled in with gracious host families, took in the sights and sounds of New York, and got to know a different part of the world.
Jonathan Pelz ’08, an alumnus of the Yukuhashi exchange, assisted the program this time around. He not only offered a set of helping hands with the visitors, but also, according to Amber Ward, Director of the Grace International Exchange program, he provided living evidence of the value of the exchange program in action.
Jonathan told the assembled Japanese visitors and GCS hosts at a welcome dinner, “After my visit to Japan with Grace Church School in 2008, I knew I wanted to study Japanese and shape my future around Japan.”  He studied Japanese in night classes during high school, and majored in economics and Japanese at Bates College. Last spring, he received his master’s degree in Japanese from the University of Edinburgh. “This exchange has really influenced me,” he remarked. “Even after nine years, the program still evokes deep and meaningful values.”
For Amber, Jonathan exemplifies the purpose of the program in action. She says, “The exchange program generated a spark that created a lifelong path for him.” She noted, “It is one thing for adults to say that this exchange trip provides deep meaning and enrichment, but it is another thing to hear it from someone who has gone through the program and was transformed because of it.”