High School Diplomats is a program that allows twenty American junior and senior students and Japanese students who are juniors and seniors to swap places. The program allows students to experience a new culture through visiting famous landmarks, exploring the school system, and staying with students from that country during a three week period.
Mary Grace Pattillo, a senior at Riverbend, had the chance to go to Japan this during the summer of 2019, through the High School Diplomats program. Her first trip with this program was a trip to Princeton in 2018 which was made up of forty students selected from different places in the United States. Of those students, only twenty of them were chosen to attend the trip to Japan recently.
Throughout her time in Japan, she was able to complete ten days of touring, three days of homestay in Japanese homes, and ten days of exchange in schools with other Japanese students. During her trip, she noticed many unique ways that Japanese and American lives differ, especially in their schools, including rooftop pools at every school, better lunches, and bell schedules for teachers, where the teachers rotated to different classes to teach different subjects.
According to the website, the HSD Japan program aims to “spread international understanding among Japanese and American high school students through a rich program of academic, cultural, and social activities.” While enjoying her stay, Mary Grace found a new interest for foreign relations. She said that the experience makes students like herself “become more aware of global affairs and diplomacy.”