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Students to sail the high seas

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Roosevelt High School science teacher Jennifer Williams and students Ronald Li and Krista Ann Lee, both 17, are making a 17-day journey from Honolulu to Fukuoka on the Kaiyu Maru training vessel.

Two Roosevelt High School seniors and a teacher will leave Honolulu Harbor this morning aboard the Kaiyu Maru, a 223-foot-long fishing training vessel, joining 60 Japanese students for a 17-day voyage to Fukuoka.

The unique student exchange aimed at promoting cultural awareness and hands-on education is believed to be the first time Hawaii high schoolers have joined the student crew of a Japanese training vessel for an open-ocean trip.

And state Department of Education officials are hoping the exchange will expand next year to include more Hawaii students.

Roosevelt seniors Krista Ann Lee and Ronald Li, both 17, learned about the pilot project more than a year ago and jumped at the chance to go.

"I just want to learn what it takes to catch fish," said Li, who wants to become a physician. "I’m really hoping I’ll be getting a view of life from the ship."

Lee, who plans to become a veterinarian, said she’s looking forward to learning about navigation hands-on.

She will be one of seven female students aboard.

The two students will be given the same chores as their Japanese peers, waking up at 6 a.m. and going to bed at 10 p.m., and will attend classes on oceanography and navigation. Both hope to improve their Japanese.


» Follow two Roosevelt High School students and their teacher on their blog — www.fukuoka.net84.net — as they sail to Fukuoka, Japan, aboard a fishing training vessel.

Lee and Li will also get instruction from their teacher, Jennifer Williams, who plans to conduct lessons on everything from astronomy to biology.

The students have to keep up on all their schoolwork, and Lee will be doing her senior project aboard the boat — teaching the Japanese crew about ancient Hawaiian fishing methods.

The onboard exchange program came about thanks to a partnership between Roosevelt and the Fukuoka Marine Studies High School.

Since 2004, Roosevelt has invited Fukuoka students to campus when they arrive in Honolulu and the Fukuoka students have brought Roosevelt kids onboard their ship when it’s docked at Aloha Tower.

Yesterday, Roosevelt students got a tour of the Kaiyu Maru and gathered on the ship’s deck for a farewell ceremony.

Ronald Nomura, vice principal of Roosevelt, told attendees that he expects Lee and Li to "come back with wonderful stories."

"It almost feels like the first trip to the moon," he quipped.

The 698-ton Kaiyu Maru is the largest Japanese student training vessel in Fukuoka thanks to a partnership the area’s school system struck with neighboring Nagasaki and Yamaguchi fisheries schools.

The ship was completed in April and left Japan on Oct. 5 for Hawaii, first making a stop in the North Pacific to catch tuna and swordfish.

Once the Kaiyu Maru arrives in Fukuoka on Dec. 5, the Roosevelt students and their teacher will visit Fukuoka high schools and tour the city, before making their way to Kyoto.

They will return to the islands Dec. 13 by plane.

The state education department pitched in about $6,000 for airfare and other expenses, and the Fukuoka schools system covered the costs of travel aboard the ship.


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