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Toyama Nishi High School

This blog entry forms part of the “Toyama-Oregon Friendship Project”, in conjunction with the series of outreach lectures conducted by Abram Leon, Coordinator for International Relations with the International Affairs Division of Toyama Prefecture. The primary goal of the lectures is to raise awareness about the Toyama-Oregon sister state relationship by introducing information about Oregon and the history of exchange to students of Toyama Prefecture.

The blog entries aim to encourage students and members of the community in Toyama and Oregon to become more personally involved in the relationship. After each school visit, I will write an entry and encourage students and other readers to leave their questions and thoughts in the comment section, as well as respond to the questions and comments of others. In this way, I hope to get a new generation interested in communication across cultures and the wonderful friendship between Toyama and Oregon.

Visit to Toyama Nishi High School

On Monday, October 5th, I visited Toyama Nishi High School. Before the class started, I met briefly with Principle Masayuki Hirano, who explained that Toyama Nishi Senior High School established a sister school relationship with Sam Barlow High School in 2004, and that over 200 students have participated in cultural exchange trips to date. He mentioned that while only a small group of students go on the trip every year, it is great for the entire school since students share what they learned with other students when they return.

Afterwards, I was shown my way toToyama nishi lecture1 the library room where I would be presenting by Mr. Sawagishi, the teacher in charge of organizing this year’s upcoming November visit. We were joined by Toyama Nishi ALT Colin Cartwright, my friend and fellow participant on the JET Program. As I prepared, we discussed the upcoming trip to Sam Barlow and the six 1st and 2nd year students who would be taking part. Asking him about Toyama Nishi, Colin commented that his students seem more outgoing and willing to talk and make mistakes than those at other academic schools, and that there are a few students in each grade with higher-level skills and a strong interest in English. In addition to visiting Sam Barlow, students visit another major North American city every year, and this year will be going to Los Angeles. Students apply out of their own interest; students who have participated in the past often go on to study English after high school, and cite the trip as a defining moment in their relationship with English.

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When the students came in, we had a few minutes to chat casually, and I asked them why they had decided to participate. A couple of students told me that they were interested in English, and another said that he liked America. It will be the first time for all of them to go to the USA!

During the lecture, in addition to introducing general information about Oregon and the sister state relationship, I gave the students advice about how to prepare for communicating during their visit. Since it can be difficult to think quickly in a foreign language, I recommended them to imagine what kind of questions they might be asked, and think about how they will respond. As well, I encouraged them to do a bit of research about Oregon, Portland and Sam Barlow, and think of topics they want to ask Oregonians about in advanced. A little bit of preparation can definitely help students make the most of their experience!

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“In my experience, Nishi students offer lots of kindness and humor that make working here enjoyable and rewarding regardless of any academic struggles. I really love working here.” – Colin Cartwright, Assistant Language Teacher at Toyama Nishi Senior High School

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このブログは、富山県国際課の国際交流員アブラム・リオンによる出前講座とともに、「富山オレゴンFriendship Project」の一部となります。講座の目的は主に、富山県とオレゴン州の友好関係についての認知度を上げるため、オレゴン州の情報や友好関係の歴史、交流に貢献している人たちを紹介することです。

一方、ブログの目的は、富山県とオレゴン州の学生や一般の方を個人レベルで交流に関わるように促すことです。各出前講座の後、ブログで写真や学生・先生のコメントを含む学校の紹介を行います。そして、学生たちに質問や感想を記事のコメント欄に書いてもらい、オレゴンの学生たちや一般の人に、そのコメントに返事をしてもらいます。こうして、新しい世代が富山県とオレゴン州の素晴らしい関係をもっと深く知ることを期待しています。

富山西高等学校へ

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10月5日(月)、富山西高等学校へ行きました。講座が始まる前に、校長の平野先生とお会いし、富山西高等学校とサムバーロウ高校の姉妹関係について聞かせていただきました。姉妹校提携は2004年から結び、今まで200人以上の高校生がポートランド市の郊外にあるサムバーロウ高校へ派遣しています。毎年は少人数のグループにも関わらず、参加した学生が富山西高校へ帰るとほかの学生に学んできたことを伝え、全体的に良い影響に繋がると語りました。

校長との挨拶のあと、colin and sawagishi今年の11月の派遣団の担当を進めている澤岸先生に図書室へ案内されました。講座の準備をしながら、富山西高校の外国語指導助手であるコリン・カートライトから派遣される1・2年生の話を聞きました。富山西高校について、カートライト先生が次のようにコメントをしました。「生徒たちが英語を話すときは、それほど間違うことを恥ずかしがらず、各学年に英語力の高い生徒もいます。サムバーロウだけではなく、毎年ほかの大きな都市も観光し、今年はロサンゼルスになります。興味を持って、自分で申し込むので、帰国後は英語の勉強を大学で続ける生徒たちが多いです。皆にとって、本当に大事な経験です。」

講座が始まる前に、生徒たちとしばらく会話し、なぜ申し込んだかを聞いたところ、「英語に興味がある」、「アメリカが好き」などと答えてくれました。皆も、今回は初めてアメリカに行くとのことです!

講座の中、オレゴンの紹介と姉妹提携の歴史とともに、アメリカにいる間に、コミュニケーションをうまくとるためのアドバイスも加えました。外国語で自分の考えていることを伝えるのは、必ずしも簡単ではないので、事前に何を聞かれるかとその答えを想像して、練習してみること。また、オレゴンやポートランド、サムバーロウについてインタネットで調べ、オレゴンの人たちと話したい話題なども準備することを伝えました。ほんの少しの準備をしただけで、きっと楽しい経験になると思います!

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(日本語版は英語版の下にあります)
This blog entry forms part of the “Toyama-Oregon Friendship Project”, in conjunction with the series of outreach lectures conducted by Abram Leon, Coordinator for International Relations with the International Affairs Division of Toyama Prefecture. The primary goal of the lectures is to raise awareness about the Toyama-Oregon sister state relationship by introducing information about Oregon and the history of exchange to students of Toyama Prefecture.

The blog entries aim to encourage students and members of the community in Toyama and Oregon to become more personally involved in the relationship. After each school visit, I will write an entry and encourage students and other readers to leave their questions and thoughts in the comment section, as well as respond to the questions and comments of others. In this way, I hope to get a new generation interested in communication across cultures and the wonderful friendship between Toyama and Oregon.

Visit to Yoshie Junior High School

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Nanto City Yoshie Junior High School

On Friday, October 2nd, I visited Yoshie Junior High School in Nanto City, for my first Toyama-Oregon friendship lecture. Driving out to the school, I mentally rehearsed what I would say to the students, and as we got closer I began to see more and more of the wide fields of persimmon trees which the area is famous for.Upon entering the school, I received a warm welcome from Ms. Kaneko the principal, and Ms. Ishisaki, the teacher with whom I had been corresponding. After taking off my shoes and sliding into some comfortable slippers, they escorted my supervisor and me into the office where we chatted about my plans for the lecture over a cup of tea. As we made our way to the room where I would be presenting, I was impressed by the nice wooden floors and spacious, open layout of the school. When I reached the media room, it reminded me more of a college lecture hall, with a stage, large projector screen, and ample elevated seating.

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View from the auditorium window

After I had set everything up, the students began to come in, and to my pleasant surprise they all sat right up in the front row, and seemed genuinely excited about my lecture. Ms. Ishisaki pointed out to me a couple of students who had visited Mt. Tabor Middle School in Portland last year. They had only stayed for about a week, but as I started my talk, I could tell right away that they seemed more engaged and interested as a result of their experience. During the lecture, I took a couple of minutes to let them share their impressions of their time at Mt. Tabor. I could tell that the difference in school culture had surprised them a bit; I giggled along with the other students as they talked about the shocking lack of school uniforms and dyed hair, and students and teachers eating snacks and chewing gum in class. After hearing what they had to say, I responded that going abroad is a great way to understand what Japan is like. After all, one can only realize what they perceive as being “normal” after learning that there is a different “normal” in other places!

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Toward the end of the lecture, I showed students the Facebook page of Beaverton High School, and my Toyama Hot News blog. Studying a foreign language is tough, and sometimes students can get discouraged with too much grammar and homework. In the end, language is not something that you ‘study’… it is something that you use! I shared the school’s page and blog as an example of a more meaningful way to learn language; where English is a tool which serves to communicate with others and learn more about the world!

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このブログは、富山県国際課の国際交流員アブラム・リオンによる出前講座とともに、「富山オレゴンFriendship Project」の一部となります。講座の目的は主に、富山県とオレゴン州の友好関係についての認知度を上げるため、オレゴン州の情報や友好関係の歴史、交流に貢献している人たちを紹介することです。

一方、ブログの目的は、富山県とオレゴン州の学生や一般の方を個人レベルで交流に関わるように促すことです。各出前講座の後、ブログで写真や学生・先生のコメントを含む学校の紹介を行います。そして、学生たちに質問や感想を記事のコメント欄に書いてもらい、オレゴンの学生たちや一般の人に、そのコメントに返事をしてもらいます。こうして、新しい世代が富山県とオレゴン州の素晴らしい関係をもっと深く知ることを期待しています。

南砺市立吉江中学校へ

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Ms. Ishisaki, Teacher

10月2日(金)、初めての富山オレゴン友好講座を行うために、南砺市立吉江中学校へ向かいました。車の中から、その土地の有名な柿を眺めながら、中学生に伝えたいことを頭の中で復習しました。

学校へ着くと、校長の金子先生と担当の石崎先生からの温かい歓迎があり、応接室で講座について話しながらお茶も用意していただきました。講座の時間が近づき、視聴覚室へ案内していただく間、広々としたオープンな校内と綺麗な木造の床に感動しました。視聴覚室はステージや大画面のスクリーンがあり、階段教室スタイルだったので、アメリカの大学の講堂を思い出しました。学生たちは元気で明るく、講座を楽しみにしていた様子だったので、私も少し安心しました。去年、ポートランド州にあるマウントテーバー中学校へ行った生徒も2人いて、滞在は約一週間だったにもかかわらず、実際の経験から生まれた英語力と好奇心が伝わってきました。講座の中では、マウントテーバーやオレゴンの感想を話してもらい、異文化に接した時の驚きを語ってくれました。制服がなく、毛染も許され、授業中にもかかわらず学生や先生がおやつを食べたり、ガムを噛んだりするなど、驚くことはさまざまです。私は話を聞いてから、言いました。「色々と日本について学ぶことができて、素晴らしい経験でしたね!だって、自分にとっての「当たり前」は、別の場所へ行って、別の「当たり前」を知るからこそ分かることではないでしょうか?」

講座の終わりに、ビーバートン高校のFacebookページと私が管理するToyama Hot Newsブログを紹介しました。外国語を学ぶことは、必ずしも簡単ではありませんし、学生たちは文法や宿題の大量に気落ちすることもあるでしょう。私が思うに、言語は「勉強」するものではなく、「使う」ものです。Facebookやこのブログを紹介することによって、自分にとって興味深く、意味のある勉強方法を探しましょう。言語習得に大切なのは、その言語力を使うことによって、コミュニケーションをとり、世界についてもっと理解しようとすることが、欠かせないことだと思います。