SINGAPORE - Rattan balls and feathered captehs flew clumsily across the school hall amid the sounds of giggles and laughter as some 57 Japanese students put their feet to the test, playing traditional Malay games for the first time.
They were cheered on and taught by about 35 students from Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah in Toa Payoh, who were hosting students from Tomeikan Junior High School in a cultural exchange visit last Friday.
The students who took part in this exchange were mostly 15-year-olds. It is the first time the madrasah is receiving students from Japan, as part of its internationalisation programme.
Among the programme's aims are for the madrasah students to become culturally aware and for them to learn from peers from different countries. Previous programmes involved students from madrasahs in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
"An appreciation of cultures from other races and countries will put our students in a better position to appreciate diversity. We hope that in future this will allow them to become agents of change who can make a positive impact in the community," said the school's principal Herman Cher Ma'in.
Tomeikan Junior High's principal Takashi Nishimura added that such cultural exchanges were crucial for his students to "broaden their worldview".
The high school is in the Saga prefecture in southern Japan.
Students arrived in Singapore last Wednesday and left for Japan on Saturday night.