Ishigaki students like Kaua’i

PUHI — Naoko Matayoshi wanted to see how she would fare against Hawai’i high-school runners.

But, after Kapa’a High School Athletic Director Gregg Gonsalves couldn’t get unanimous agreement from leaders at the other high schools participating in the Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation cross-country meet Saturday, Matayoshi had to settle for being one of the spectators.

Matayoshi is one of four students from Ishigaki, Japan, who wrapped up their week-long visit Tuesday. They had been spending time at Kapa’a High School.

Lillian Wadahara, one of the Kaua’i escorts, explained that Matayoshi, at age 14, is one of the top five runners on Ishigaki (Island) in the 12-to-15 age group, and would’ve wanted to have competed at the highschool level to see how she would’ve done.

Accompanied by a teacher, Mikiko Maedomari, and a city official, Hideno Uchihara, who is in charge of the Peace International Exchange Program, the group members were on hand Monday morning to visit the Kaua’i Community College campus and, more specifically, the classroom of KCC instructor Brian Yamamoto.

Yamamoto, whose son is a student at Kapa’a High School, has been hosting one of the four students since last week, and welcomed the group to the Puhi campus, where they were greeted by students of Yamamoto’s class as well as the college’s Japanese Club.

Wadahara explained that the four students and teacher had to apply for the privilege of this trip to celebrate the sister-city relationship Kaua’i shares with Ishigaki, whose geographic and demographic properties parallel those of Kaua’i.

Yamamoto pointed out that, for the visiting Ishigaki students, the weather here now is cold to them, since they live in what is described as “Hurricane Alley,” which sees a normal 10 to 12 typhoons annually. The weather there is hot and humid, something Yamamoto described as “the worst Kona weather times two.”

Maedomari explained that, for two of the students, this is their first trip outside of Okinawa, and they were surprised at some facets of the American education system.

The four students come from different parts of the island, and come from schools with student enrollments that range from 30 to 500 students, Maedomari noted.

While waiting for the classes to congregate, the group got to meet Megumi Chibana, a KCC student from Okinawa who is majoring in anthropology.

“The students really like it here,” Maedomari said. “In fact, they like it so much, one doesn’t want to leave.”

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