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Primary Source Work Ignites Historic Cultural Exchange

01 April 2014

Hingham Japan PartnershipWhen a group of Hingham High School students and administrators saw the popular documentary film Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball, they were inspired by the dedication and passion of the film's coaches and students. After participating in a Primary Source webinar with the filmmakers Ken Eng and Alex Shear in February 2013, the idea for a cultural exchange took root. Led by assistant principal and baseball coach Rick Swanson, the school set plans into motion to bring the Tennoji High School baseball team from Osaka, Japan, to Hingham, Massachusetts. After a year of dedicated effort on the part of the two schools and film producer Shear, 33 students made the trip to Massachusetts' South Shore with their beloved coach Masa Sensei from March 22 – 29, 2014.

The group from Tennoji was welcomed into the Hingham community with warmth and generosity. In addition to spending time in school and on the baseball field, students took field trips to Fenway Park, Harvard University, the Freedom Trail, the JFK Library, and a Boston Celtics game. All students were hosted by local families for the week and given a glimpse of American culture along with the opportunity to forge lifelong friendships.

The week culminated with two exciting events on March 28th. An exhibition baseball game between the Tennoji and Hingham teams drew a packed crowd and ended with Tennoji defeating Hingham's 2013 Division II state champions 3-1. In the evening, a screening of Kokoyakyu, the film that sparked the exchange, was held. Guests of honor included the Consul General of Japan in Boston, The Honorable Mr. Akira Muto, and State Representative Garrett Bradley. Representative Bradley presented a citation from the state legislature to the coaches and captains of both teams for fostering cultural understanding through a mutual passion for baseball.

The Hingham and Tennoji exchange was a tremendous success, and both high schools hope this is the start of an ongoing relationship. One Hingham parent echoed a common sentiment when he said, "Our family was forever changed by this experience." Primary Source is thrilled to have been the spark that ignited such inspiring cultural enrichment.

Tennoji High School students

Tennoji students pose with Hingham High honorary mural which was created by Emma McKeon-White & Ali Weaver, Hingham High School students.

Above: Filmmaker Alex Shear with Tennoji Coach Masa Sensei

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