“Can I go to Komatsu again this summer?” asked Stephen, an American college student studying Japanese, asked his host mother who lives in Komatsu, Ishikawa.
“Of course! On what day are you coming and how long will you stay? . . .”
When asking for more details, there was something that stood out.
Stephen was going to Obuse, Nagano after Komatsu. There, he was going to participate in a summer school for high school students.
“Hey, Stephen, what’s in Obuse? What are you doing there? What kinds of things do you do at summer school?”
The host mother had never heard of summer school before and was intrigued.
On the morning of the fourth day after Stephen left Komatsu, the mystery was finally solved.
He was caught on T.V talking with high schoolers and performing a spectacular ballroom dance.
“Wow, is this what summer school is all about?”
After the video, Toru Omiya who was the director of the summer program (HLAB) , said to the students as he looked at them and crossed his arms, “We would like to hold this summer school in other regions as well.”
With this, the Komatsu host mother felt it was her calling.
“I want to have this summer school in Komatsu too!”
The summer school was prepared with no operating funds or know-how.
This summer school was co-hosted by IMPACT Foundation Japan which supports various activities such as HLAB. They also collaborated with HLAB, the summer school targeted for high school students.
Additionally, they received sponsorship from organizations in Ishikawa Prefecture including Princeton in Ishikawa, which has been teaching Japanese to American college students in Ishikawa for 20 years, as well as support from companies and individuals with ties to the Hokuriku region.
“Is our current educational environment good as it is?”
“I want to change myself. I want to change the community.”
“I don’t want the younger students to have the same regrets I had in high school.”
Gathering each of their thoughts and placing them into their hearts, the college students and working adults joined forces to begin preparing for the summer school.
Then, it was July 30, 2014.
Komatsu Summer School (KSS) 2014 was held.
“It was inspiring to see high school students of my same generation working hard to speak and understand English.” –12th grade student (at that time) / female / Tokyo
“After the summer school ended, I started to think seriously about my future path.” –10th grade student (at that time) / male / Tokyo
“Interacting with American college students using English that we don’t have many opportunities to use in daily life and talking about various topics with like-minded friends at night are memories that are still fresh in my mind. These memories which I will never forget are forever in my heart.” –10th grade student (at that time) / male/ Ishikawa
It appeared that everyone’s passions transferred even onto the high school students.
Just like the Olympic torch relay, the small flame of Komatsu Summer School which was passed down from Princeton in Ishikawa and HLAB is gaining momentum and becoming a larger flame as the years go by.
This year’s Komatsu Summer School will also be a hot, hot seven days where the blaze will go whoosh into the hearts of the high school students.