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Harvey Embraces Japanese Culture at Exhibit

KATONAH, N.Y—The Harvey School held its annual Candlelight Concert this week, and in the backdrop stood evidence of a disaster of epic proportions. Earlier this month the school opened a photography exhibit depicting the devastation created by the tsunami that struck Japan last year.

Tim Cornell, the Japanese teacher of nine years and creator of the program at Harvey, brought the exhibit to the school’s art center. It is part of a bigger program that will hit its crescendo come March 26, when four Japanese students who were greatly affected by the storm will make their way westward to spend a week with families of the school.

The exhibit, which appeared at the United Nations for a week, acts as the visual predecessor, a setting to give to the students of Harvey who are already anticipating the arrival of their temporary classmates.

“It’s been fantastic. They knew about the disaster, but to see the pictures, it really engenders more question and curiosity for students who don’t take Japanese,” said Cornell. “It has certainly raised awareness. And the pictures related to the school-aged kids hit home and make it more real for them.”

One of those students of Cornell’s class is Fiona Magliari, a junior at the school and a budding artist. Her interest in Japanese culture correlates with the class, and the pictures showing the pain and suffering in the country give her a strong reaction.

“It’s very impactful, photography is very beautiful, and dramatic, it really does show you what people are going through and have gone through,” she said.

Cornell’s class has grown in size over the years, with the class at its largest capacity at 35 students. Magliari knows that while it might not be for everyone, the language and culture are well suited for more than a handful.

“When I went to the Japanese class, it was very artistic. The characters were more like drawing than actually writing, so they’re easier to remember,” she said. “It’s a whole lot of fun to say, too.”

The Japanese students’ arrival has many students clamoring to be a part of the experience, with Magliari one of those who have eagerly offered up her house for the guests. She knows that, just like the class and the exhibit, the experience will be one to learn from.

“It would be a great time, learning more about the culture one on one,” she noted. “And I’m sure they would love to come over and do the same.”

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