FLOTUS Michelle Obama Visits Great Falls Elementary School to Promote Japanese Immersion Program in FCPS

FLOTUS Michelle Obama Visits Great Falls Elementary School to Promote Japanese Immersion Program in FCPS

Nik Popli, News Editor

Students at Great Falls Elementary School showcased their knowledge of Japanese language and culture before First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Akie Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife, who is in the United States for a White House visit, on Tuesday, April 28. Students listened intently as Obama remarked on the importance of Japanese immersion programs in public schools.

Obama stressed the significance of interactions between American students and kids from other countries so they can learn about each other and their common interests. “As the President always says, building friendships between people is how we truly build friendships between entire countries. It’s through the work that you’re doing. You guys are the true ambassadors. And I don’t want you to ever underestimate that, especially when you go to Japan. You are going to be showing the best of America to one of our most important partners…When you learn about Japanese culture and languages, and you get to know kids from Japan, you’re helping to strengthen that friendship,” said Obama in her speech to the students.

“You have really, really demonstrated a level of understanding of the culture and the language…You guys are playing an important role in bringing our two countries even closer together, and you should be very, very, very proud of yourselves,” said Obama.

The Japanese immersion (JI) program at Great Falls Elementary School began in 1989 as a way to educate students in foreign language and culture. “I have just visited a Japanese immersion class before coming here and am very pleased to hear the wonderful Japanese in the beautiful accents,” said Abe. The JI program teaches students science, math, and health in Japanese, a unique opportunity for young students in Fairfax County. Great Falls is just one of two schools in the area offering JI to elementary school students, and uses a lottery-based selection process.

For the full transcript of the speeches by Michelle Obama and Akie Abe, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/28/remarks-first-lady-michelle-obama-and-mrs-akie-abe-japan-school-visit