Special Exchange Project - The Collaborative Projects

The Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) program brings together the teachers in Japan and the U.S. to deepen mutual understanding of each other’s educational system and culture through reciprocal two-week study visits of the U.S. and Japan. In addition, they hold joint meetings to build partnerships and curricula on the theme of ESD. The program participants are expected to conduct collaborative projects to enhance ESD.

Below are collaborative projects by the ESD Program participants:

*The listed schools are the teachers' affiliation at the time of program participation
**The projects are listed first by the program year, then alphabetical order of the project leader's last name


I AM Project

2013 Yonnette Moore, Bishop Walker School for Boys (Washington, DC)
At the San Francisco Joint Conference, my partner and I talked about how our respective students had low self-esteem, and we thought a project that would encourage students to build self-confidence would-- at the same time-- be an effective bridge to educating for sustainable development. Thus, the [I AM Project] was born. Without putting pressure on themselves, the students develop self-introductions to share with others. Then, by examining their partners' self-introductions, they will have an opportunity to reflect on how they presented themselves. In the first part of the project, the students focused on stresses in their lives and ways that they deal with the stress; then, they created posters entitled [My Life] and sent them to their partners. In the second part of the project, they will make self-introductions using video and begin video-based exchanges. We have started the project slowly, but the students are growing excited as they share about themselves little by little, and because of the reception by their partners, their self-esteem is increasing. I think this will help them become children who have hope for the future. I am eager to develop this project and continue the exchanges.

Participating Schools
  • Nagoya University School of Education Affiliated Upper and Lower Secondary School (Aichi, Japan)
  • Kiyoe Sato Bishop Walker School for Boys (Washington, DC) Yonnette Moore


Peace Project

2012 Merinda Davis, Lakeridge High School (Utah)
The International Peace Project is a collaboration of students from the United States and Japan whose focus is on peace through action and understanding. Students share ideas about global sustainability issues through Skype, Japan Society's Going Global social media site, and pen-pal writing activities. As students get to know each other, they discuss these global issues and work together to be a part of the solution. Students completed service projects, documentaries and collaborative videos about what they have learned.

Participating Schools
  • Jiyu Gakuen (Tokyo) Koichi Sarashina
  • Toyoda Junior High School (Shizuoka) Tazuhiro Yoshida
  • Lakeridge Junior High School (Utah) Merinda Davis

Folktale Project

2012 Andrew Hurie, La Causa Charter School (Wisconsin)
Six schools in Japan and the United States participated in a multicultural folktale exchange project throughout the 2012-13 school year. After sharing videotaped introductions, each class researched, retold, and illustrated a folktale of particular value to their local community. Videos, posters and illustrations were shared with partnering schools using Skydrive. More than mere stories, folktales are passed from one generation to the next in order to educate the young about the values and worldview of a people. Through this folktale exchange, the participating students learned about themselves as well as their peers across the Pacific Ocean. (Andrew Hurie)

Participating Schools
  • Shirogane Elementary School (Chiba, Japan) Shigeko Takada
  • Tsuge Elementary School (Nara, Japan) Yoshiyuki Atarashi
  • La Causa Charter School (Wisconsin) Andrew Hurie
  • Howard Gray School (Arizona) Sue Lynn Cullumber
  • Lakeridge Junior High School (Utah) Merinda Davis
  • The International School (Oregon) Julie Jansen


"Rise Up" Japan-US Collaborative Music Project

2011 Ken Higgins, The Town School (New York)
Rise up is a work for children's chorus. The film is a compilation of performances of the song by students from both American and Japanese schools. The contributing schools cross a broad spectrum of communities, from a school in remote Saga, with only 11 students in the entire school, to my own school in the heart of New York City, with an enrollment in the hundreds. Rise Up was inspired by the courage and resilience of the Japanese people, and is dedicated to the victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and to the goal of a peaceful and sustainable future. (Ken Higgins)

Participating Schools
  • Jiyu Gakuen (Tokyo) Kazuya Takahashi
  • Senior High School at Sakado, University of Tsukuba (Saitama) Katsuyoshi Ishii
  • Fernwood Montessori School (Wisconsin) Jessica Foster
  • Seibi High School (Osaka) Keiko Miyazaki
  • Ebetsu-shi Izumino Elementary School (Hokkaido) Yuki Okada
  • Junction City School (California) Janine Gacek
  • Expressions Learning Academy (Florida) Juniper DiGiovanni
  • Oonohara Junior High School (Saga) Tomoko Ikeda
  • The Cathedral School (New York) Kobi Marceca
  • The Town School (New York) Ken Higgins

Butterfly Project Save Endangered Species

2011 Tomoko Ikeda, Ureshino-shi Oonohara Junior High School (Saga)
"Can we save endangered species?"
The goal of the Butterfly Project is to share information and activities toward understanding biodiversity among schools in Japan and the U.S. through the research, protection and environment conservation activities, including reproduction plans, of abriciana nerippe, which is one of the butterflies on the Red List of Threatened Species in Japan. A total of 580 students from 14 participating schools across the ocean did coloring of Oonohara Junior High School's original butterfly mascot "ra-chan" and wrote messages to her. Those colored pictures and messages have been posted on the school website.

I sincerely wish that this kind of local movement will be a global one some day in order to build a more sustainable society; eventually, everyone on the globe will start appreciating precious lives, exemplified by the beautiful but threatened butterfly species.
(Tomoko Ikeda)

Participating Schools
  • Aizuwakamatsu-shi Matsunaga Elementary School (Fukushima) Keiichi Nachigami
  • Shonai Agricultural High School (Yamagata) Yuko Okuyama
  • Toyonaka-shi Ueno Elementary School (Osaka) Junko Kadowaki
  • Rusutsu Village Rusutsu Elementary School (Hokkaido) Tomohiro Watarai
  • Woodstock Union High School (Vermont) Michelle Fields
  • Okazaki-shi Ryunan Junior High School (Aichi) Junichi Morita
  • Saito-shi Sanzai Elementary School (Miyazaki) Hideto Kodama
  • Christensen Middle School (California) Regina Brinker
  • Simms Middle School (Montana) Caitlin Chiller
  • Common Ground High School (Connetticut) Patricia Johnson
  • Rio Grande School (New Mexico) Mollie Parsons
  • Sakura Gakuen (US)
  • Gifu-shi Shima Elementary School (Gifu) Kiyoharu Nohara
  • GEMS Kindergarten (US)

Do One Thing Collaborative Mural

2011 Michael Miller, Wyomissing Area Junior Senior High School (Pennsylvania)
"Do One Thing" is a bi-national collaborative mural inspired by the theme of sustainability. Nearly 700 students from Japan and the United States participated in the project through researching and acting on the small changes individuals can make in their lives to influence more mindful use of our natural resources. (Michael Miller)

Participating Schools
  • Morioka Chuo High School (Iwate) Shinichi Itoi
  • Sakura Minami High School (Chiba) Akira Hayashi
  • Woodrow Wilson Public High School (Washington, D.C.) Sarah Riggins
  • Wyomissing Area Junior Senior High School (Pennsylvania) Michael Miller
  • Participants of the Japan-U.S. Youth Exchange Program for High School Students

Vase Face Perception Portraits - A Writing Exchange to Promote Cultural Awareness

2011 Michael Miller, Wyomissing Area Junior Senior High School (Pennsylvania)
"Vase Face" is a writing exchange that involved nearly 250 students from Japan and the United States. This project was inspired by the question, "How does our perception of peers from another country/culture differ from the true reality?" Using the well known vase-face image a metaphor, self portraits of students from both nations were layered on top of the students' writings. (Michael Miller)

Participating Schools
  • Affiliated Upper and Lower Secondary Schools, Nagoya University (Aichi) Hiroaki Sankoda
  • Wyomissing Area Junior Senior High School (Pennsylvania) Michael Miller

Exchanging Eco-Friendly Posters and Energy Conservation Posters

2011 Hiroshi Yamashita, Nakamatsu Elementary School (Kumamoto, Japan)
For this project, three schools listed below, studied about eco-friendly life style and energy conservation methods. Both the U.S. and Japanese students created posters on these two themes, and these were shared among the participating schools. In addition, the local newspaper introduced their collaborative work. Although the students from both countries felt differences in each other’s customs, culture, and ways of expression, they realized that everyone had the same feeling towards developing sustainable future. They also had the same approaches for energy conservation. I would like to take this opportunity as a start of a new initiative, and continue it further by exchanging more drawings, photographs, mails, etc. that illustrates handy and easy activities to protect environment and conserve energy.

<Participating Schools>
  • Fernwoon Montessori School (Wisconsin) Jessica Foster
  • Plum Point Elementary School (Maryland) Robin Shaffer
  • Nakamatsu Elementary School (Kumamoto) Hiroshi Yamashita


Japan-US Wild Fowl Project

2010 Katsuyoshi Ishii, Senior High School at Sakado, University of Tsukuba (Saitama)
Let's research local wild fowl and compare the results. The project was started by a suggestion from a teacher in Common Ground High School in Connecticut to a teacher in Sakado High School in Saitama Prefecture. As one way to learn about ecological diversity through biological research, we investigated wild fowl species living in our own local areas. Although the research team was very small, as there were only two teachers, one Japanese student and two U.S. students, we launched the project in April 2011 and spent about a year to execute a thorough study and exchanged data we had collected. We found that there were a total of four resident and migrating birds common to both areas. (Katsuyoshi Ishii)

Participating Schools
  • Senior High School at Sakado, University of Tsukuba (Saitama) Katsuyoshi Isii
  • Common Ground High School (Connecticut) Tricia Johnson

Odori-Louisiana Peace Project

2010 Aki Nishihara, Sapporo Odori High School (Hokkaido)
2010 Jennifer Bevill, University High School (Louisiana)
Odori - LSU ESD Peace Project is an interdisciplinary curriculum development and exchange project, begun in 2010, between Sapporo Odori High School and Louisiana State University Laboratory School (LSU) . The Project aims to increase intercultural understanding through raising students' awareness of domestic/world peace and ethnic/cultural diversity. 34 teachers from 12 disciplines volunteered for collaboration, including World History, Maths, Fine Arts and Technology. Students and teachers exchanged multimedia messages via videos, Internet, e-mail, DVD or post. Students created a 'Thousand Cranes' - 500 cranes constructed at each school and threaded together. This was dedicated to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park by Odori students, followed by a video exchange between the two schools. Topics for collaboration included: Cross Cultural Understanding: Dialogue - Definite Evil or Necessary Evil? Messages to March 11th Victims: After the Great East Japan Earthquake (LSU students sent messages to Odori, where language was translated then sent to Kesennuma, the affected area); LSU Anti-bullying Commercial Films and Odori Talk Session with an indigenous Hokkaido Ainu high school student. The involvement and excitement of individual teachers and students in the two schools is the force that has continued the project, and we hope it always will. (Aki Nishihara)

ESD-News ~ One Piece Project

2010 Tomohiro Watarai, Toubetsu Municipal Nishitoubetsu Elementary School (Hokkaido)
Since my participation in the 2010 program, the inaugural year of the program, I have published six issues of SD News introducing ESD-related activities and challenges at Japanese elementary schools and in local communities in order to promote mutual understanding between Japan and the U.S. As I consider participation in the Teacher Exchange Program for ESD not as goal but a launching pad, I am making small but steady steps to continue my ESD activities by publishing the newsletter as one step. Even though some people are insecure about their English, I hope my newsletter in English will encourage readers to find there is something they can do. I named my publishing project as one Piece Project and I would like to encourage program participants to make small but steady steps to implement ESD just as I do. (Tomohiro Watarai)

Poster Exchange

2010 Tomohiro Watarai, Toubetsu Municipal Nishitoubetsu Elementary School (Hokkaido)
2010 Thomas Harten, CHESPAX(The Environmental Education Program for the Calvert County Public School System) (Maryland)
I have just launched a poster exchange project with Mr. Tom Harten, CHESPAX, Maryland, 2010 program participant, at the elementary school level. Since we have different academic calendars, it is difficult to synchronize the curriculum, but I have already received many posters from Mr. Harten and his students on the ecology of tortoises in Maryland. My students and I are going on a school trip in September in order to learn about virgin beech forests and wildlife in Hokkaido, and conduct trial activities in fishing and field work at a fossil site. Our posters, which we are going to send to Mr. Harten, will be about what my students will learn during their school trip. (Tomohiro Watarai)