The hospitality 23 students and two teachers from Columbus High School received during a free trip to Japan last year is being returned this week.
Eighteen students and their English teacher from Furukawa Reimei High School in the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan made a presentation Friday to a group of local students and community leaders at the Columbus State University Center for International Education. The local students are from Columbus and Hardaway High schools and CSU.
The Japanese contingent arrived Thursday in Columbus and is scheduled to leave Sunday.
The exchange is part of the Kizuna Project, which is designed to raise awareness of the long-term results of the earthquake and tsunami that decimated Japan on March 11, 2011. More than 1,000 American students enrolled in Japanese courses and more than 1,000 Japanese students enrolled in English courses have been selected for the program.
As teachers of Advanced Placement Human Geography at Columbus High, Wendy Highnote and Mark Erb escorted the Columbus students to Tokyo, Tohoku, Kyoto, Osaka and Columbus' sister city of Kiryu.
They stayed with local families in Kiryu and in hotels the rest of the trip.
The visiting Japanese students are staying with the families of Columbus High students. They participated in several activities at Columbus High before Friday's presentation at CSU.
Aflac, a Partner in Education with Columbus High, provided breakfast for the visitors in the school cafeteria. The Columbus-based supplemental insurer, which does business in Japan, had employees on hand to discuss job opportunities and cultural adjustments with the students. Aflac also provided Kizuna wristbands for all Columbus High students to wear.
Friday night, the Japanese students were scheduled to attend a Columbus Cottonmouths hockey game, also courtesy of Aflac.
Today, they are headed to Atlanta to visit the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center, Lenox Mall and the home of Toshinori Matsuda, of the consulate general of Japan.