November 4th marked a milestone for UWC ISAK Japan as we hosted our inaugural International Culture and Education Festival. This event was more than just a celebration; it was a bridge connecting us to the local Karuizawa community, an invitation extended with open arms and warm hearts.
Welcoming the world, starting with Karuizawa
Our campus buzzed with excitement, as nearly 600 guests from Karuizawa and beyond, including visitors from South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and the USA, explored the intentional diversity of cultures our 200 students from 80 countries represent. The festival unfolded in two sessions, morning and afternoon, each a showcase of the school’s spirit.
The festival’s heartbeat was its array of activities. In the gymnasium, guests laughed and cheered through international games. The Asama Building turned into a culinary exploration with international foods, each bite a story from a different corner of the world. While The Accord Center (TAC) came alive with activities representing our Arts programs (Theatre, Film, and Visual Art), echoing our commitment to creativity and expression.
A unique approach to living and learning
But this festival was more than a cultural showcase. It was a demonstration of our unique approach to education. We shared the history and missions of the UWC movement and UWC ISAK Japan. From our flagship leadership program to our core International Baccalaureate diplomas program (IBDP), we opened our doors wider, letting the community see the inner workings of Japan’s first international boarding high school.
This event was nearly a year in the making. It was born from a desire to reconnect with our local community after the isolating times of the pandemic. We’ve always welcomed locals to our annual International Day in February, but this year, we chose to celebrate in the embrace of autumn. We were inspired by the success of the student-led CAS Project Kannon in 2022, where students held workshops and activities on International Children’s Day, sharing a slice of life at UWC ISAK Japan.
Committed to building connections
As each session drew to a close and our guests finished collecting all of the stamps in the Sabi-chan Stamp Rally, the joy and enthusiasm from everyone was evident. Our students shone as ambassadors of their cultures and of our school’s values. Their pride in representing UWC ISAK Japan was clear to see, and it resonated deeply with our guests.
This festival was also an important part of our 10th-year celebrations. A decade of growth, learning, and connection – this event encapsulated it all.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated, contributed, and celebrated with us. Your presence turned this festival into a launching pad for great connection with the local community. As we look forward to future events, we carry with us the memories of this day – a reminder of the beauty in diversity and the strength of community.