At the beginning of this school year, Carrollwood Day School was excited to welcome its newest member, Byakudan Mochizuki, all the way from Japan. Pronounced as "bya-ku-dan," Byakudan was about to embark on an immersive cultural exchange that would span from August 15th to 25th, 2023.
CDS, along with Brad Hayes our International Programs Coordinator, is dedicated to fostering cross-cultural understanding, and Byakudan's arrival promised to be a highlight of our initiatives. As the 11th grader from Japan stepped off the plane, he was met with warm smiles and open arms from his host family, the Bradleys. Among them was Aaron Bradley, a fellow 11th grader at CDS, who would be Byakudan's guide and friend throughout his stay.
The next ten days were a whirlwind of exploration and learning. The Bradleys introduced him to American customs and Byakudan, in turn, shared insights into Japanese traditions. As his time at CDS came to a close, we asked Byakudan some questions about his stay. Below are his responses.
- How has your experience at CDS impacted your perspective on education and student life in your home country?
CDS's students are very disciplined, I was impressed that everyone was focused and participated in class even with access to their computers and phones in class. In my school, phones are not allowed, and I see people distracted by their laptops. I now have a bad image towards Japanese education, since a lot of classes are obligatory and it seems that most people aren't satisfied by the classes they have to take, opposing the freedom in being able to select your classes in CDS.
- What are some of the most significant cultural differences you've encountered during your time here, and how do you think they'll shape your future interactions?
There isn't much public transportation in Florida which was shocking, and most high schoolers go to school with their cars. Part of the reason I came to Florida is so I can experience different places in the United States to find a place I aspire to study at for college, and I couldn't really stand getting in the car every day.
- Can you share some of your favorite memories or highlights from your stay at CDS?
My highlights in CDS will have to be the computer science class. I thought it was a great way to use our laptops. In my school, we don't have a class where we get to really use our laptops.
- How do you envision applying the knowledge and insights you've gained here once you return to your home country?
I've noticed in the hallways of CDS that everyone greets each other and I felt that we don't do that much in our school. People in my school talk to each other a few times and then never greet each other, creating an awkward relationship. This made me think that greetings are a key part of maintaining a relationship, and I'd definitely apply this to my daily life.
- What advice would you give to future exchange students who are considering coming to CDS or embarking on a similar journey?
I'd tell them to take the classes they want to take and have the opportunity to choose courses they have an interest in or classes that they couldn't have taken otherwise.
- If you were to change something at CDS to the way it is done at Kogakuin, what would it be?
I saw a lot of students complaining about where their lockers were situated, and that it was really far from their advisory classes. If there is a way to have a locker closer to the classroom?
- If you were to change something at Kogakuin to the way it is done at CDS, what would it be?
Kogakuin's classes do not allow students to use their laptops to their fullest potential. It is as if the laptops are useless and I'd want to see classes such as computer science.
CDS loved having Byakudan as a student and is excited to keep in touch with him as he continues his schooling in Japan. Thank you to the Bradley family for opening their home and their family to the program and thank you to the continued work of Brad Hayes, who keeps us connected with the international world of education.