YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - Gov. Tomblin today continued to field video questions from students in the Mountain State as he traveled to Yokohama to represent West Virginia at Japan's largest automotive trade show. In a special twist, today's questions came from Japanese students who now live in West Virginia, where their parents work for Japanese companies that have invested in the state.
In 1997, to serve the growing number of Japanese families living and working in West Virginia, the state Department of Education, in conjunction with Marshall University, opened the West Virginia International School. Many Japanese companies with operations in the state send employees to West Virginia for three- to five-year rotations, after which the employees and their families return to Japan. The International School, which meets on Saturdays, allows those employees' children to supplement their regular schooling with instruction in Japanese language arts, math and social studies, to avoid gaps in their Japanese educations.
The West Virginia International School is one of only 100 schools in the country for Japanese students living in the United States.
Today's questions for Gov. Tomblin came from a second-grader and a seventh-grader enrolled at the International School. The first student asked the governor about his favorite place during this trade mission. His answer was Nagoya, the Japanese automotive hub where the mission began-which happens to be the delighted student's hometown. The other student asked Gov. Tomblin his favorite food he has eaten in Japan (answer: tempura, a dish of fried fish or vegetables).
"I've truly enjoyed being able to connect with folks back home and share a few of my experiences during this trade mission," Gov. Tomblin said. "I'd like to give special thanks to all those who submitted questions and shared an interest in West Virginia's growing relationship with Japan. We are headed back to West Virginia after a very productive and successful 10 days in Nagoya, Tokyo and Yokohama."
The West Virginia International School serves more than 30 Japanese students and is hosted at Scott Teays Elementary School in Scott Depot. The school uses materials from the Japanese Ministry of Education.