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Taipei City Goverment

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Taipei Beitou Junior High School, Obonai Junior High School Become Sister Schools

* Last summer, coordinated by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan, the Mayor, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly, Director-General of Education of Semboku, and the Principal of Obonai Junior High School all visited Taipei Beitou Junior High School in succession. A sister school agreement was formed to facilitate bilateral exchanges between schools, enhance the relationship between Taiwanese and Japanese students, as well as to protect the Hokutolite.

Hokutolite is a rare mineral that is rich in radium, and it only exists in Beitou Hot Spring in Taipei City and the Tamagawa Hot Spring in Semboku, Akita, Japan. On April 24, Taipei Beitou Junior High School Principal Li Su-zhen led a group of 21 teachers and students to visit Obonai Junior High School in Japan. The Japanese students welcomed the entourage with the ROC flag waving in their hands. Apart from the teachers and students of both schools, dignitaries including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Semboku, Chairman and councilors of the Legislative Assembly, the Director-General of Education and the Principals of various schools in Semboku all gathered to witness the momentous occasion!

Obonai Junior High School decorated the school surroundings with posters featuring Chinese characters and Japanese phonology; the gesture was not only educational but also touched the hearts of Taipei Beitou Junior High School’s teachers and students!

To acquaint the teachers and students of Obonai Junior High School with Taipei Beitou Junior High School, the Taiwanese youths introduced Beitou’s history, delicacies, and the school through an English presentation. In addition, the students from Beitou had practiced the recorder for nearly 3 months, so they celebrated the friendship of these 2 schools by performing the school song of Obonai Junior High School, which surprised and touched the hearts of their Japanese counterparts!

According to Cheng Chun-yun, a member of the visiting group: “I felt extremely excited about attending the international school visit event for the first time. Although the Japanese people give off a stern impression, they are nonetheless just as friendly as the Taiwanese people. During this visit, we participated in dorayaki DIY and badminton classes with other Japanese students, and we also enjoyed lunch with them. The Japanese students are always sitting upright, and they are very friendly, hospitable to us, there were even ROC flags in the classrooms!”

The Taiwanese students also especially visited the Hokutolite at the Tamagawa Hot Spring in order to understand the importance of Hokutolite preservation efforts by the Beitou Hot Spring in Taipei City and Tamagawa Hot Spring in Semboku. From their observation of the small details, the students learned that the Japanese people’s technique of preserving the Hokutolite appears to be slightly more advanced. For instance, the CEO of the hot spring hotel where we stayed presented a lecture to the teachers and students on Hokutolite along with a hands-on experiment on strong acids. Furthermore, the visitors also noticed that there was only a single hot spring hotel at the Tamagawa Hot Spring outfall, which is a world apart from the mushrooming hot spring hotels next to the Beitou Hot Spring. By comparing the vast difference between the 2 locations, they cannot help but wonder which is more important, tourism or the preservation of Hokutolite? Can the tourism industry share the responsibility of promoting and preserving the Hokutolite?

In recent years, Taipei Beitou Junior High School has proactively engaged in educational exchanges on an international level. During the process of forging the sister school relationship, in addition to enhancing the international horizon of the teachers and students, it is hoped that both schools will interact regularly to form a substantial bond, thereby allowing the students to experience the importance and compatibility of cultural diversity around the world. Moreover, the knowledge they have absorbed pertaining to the Hokutolite in Semboku will help to deepen their affection for their hometown.