Visit to Nyuzen High School

IMG_1234This 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 Nyuzen High School

On Wednesday, October 21st, I had the chance to visit Nyuzen High School for my ongoing Toyama Oregon Friendship class. I was scheduled to speak in front of 118 second-year students, the largest group I have had thus far, and as such I was a little bit nervous. It was my first time making the journey out to the town of Nyuzen, and I admired the beautiful vistas of the mountains, which seem to grow taller the farther east you travel along the bay. Ms. Hirose, the current JET program supervisor drove me out to the school, and on the way she mentioned that she had taught English in Nyuzen High School for 8 years prior to being transferred to her current job. Excited about returning to her former workplace, she was greeted warmly by the staff as we entered the school, and laughed and chatted with teachers as we were shown into the principal’s office for tea.

We spoke with Principal Satoshi Kanda about the relationship between Nyuzen and Forest Grove, and about the exchange visits which are held annually between the areas. I was already aware of the delegation which had visited this past July, including Forest Grove Mayor Peter Truax, but I was happy to hear that every year a few students from Nyuzen also participate in the visits. I learned that two students from Nyuzen High School and eight junior high students were chosen to visit Oregon from October 29th to November 6th, with a group led by Nyuzen’s Mayor Haruhito Sasajima. I firmly believe that these are the sort of experiences that awaken interest across cultures and help us to grow as people.

When the class began, I was faced with a large room full of high schoolers, some bright eyed and excited, some looking quite sleepy after lunch. Doing my best to keep the energy up, I explained about Oregon’s weather, landscape, food, and schools. Students seemed to enjoy participating through quizzes about Oregon facts, and were also very interested when showed a video about the Japanese immersion program at Richmond Elementary School. I did find that students seemed hesitant to speak when I asked for their opinions; the larger the group, the more that students seem to feel embarrassed speaking out. Near the end of the class, I asked the students: “Who is more responsible for learning, the student or teacher?” After having them think about it for a bit, I told them my point of view, that whether one is learning a language or any other subject, in the end it is up to the individual to do the learning. No one else can do it for you! With that in mind, I encouraged students to take responsibility for their own learning, and not rely on their teachers too much. With so many resources available today via the internet, investigating things that interest you is easier than ever! I hope that this blog will also be a way for students to put their English or Japanese skills into practice, and learn more about Toyama and Oregon.

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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。

また、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。

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                             Kobayashi Sensei

10月21日(水)に、入善高等学校で富山・オレゴンFriendship出前講座を行いました。今までで最も多い118人のグループだったので、少し緊張しました。入善町へ向かって行くと山がだんだん大きく見え、山脈と海の景色を楽しみました。一緒に行った担当の廣瀬先生は、県の国際課へ異動する前、入善高校で8年英語を教えていたそうです。入善高校へ着くと、久しぶりに会ったスタッフや先生たちに歓迎され、楽しく会話をしながら校長室へ挨拶をしに行きました。

 

お茶をいただきながら、入善町とオレゴン州のフォレストグローブ市との交流について、神田校長先生と話しました。今年の7月にピーター・トラックス市長を含め、フォレストグローブから訪問団が入善町へ派遣されたことや、毎年入善高校生が参加する訪問団についても聞かせていただきました。今年も、10月29日から11月6日まで、笹島春人町長が団長となり、入善町から中学生と高校生が中心の訪問団を派遣しました。このような経験は、国際的視野を広げ、そして人間として成長する機会になるに違いありません。

講座が始まる前に、100人以上の高校生を見ると、好奇心と楽しみに満ちた学生もいれば、昼ご飯のあとに眠そうな学生もいました。元気を出してもらえるように、テンション高くオレゴンの土地、食べ物、学校などについて紹介しました。オレゴン州の基礎情報クイズやリッチモンド小学校の日本語イマージョン・プログラムの動画は、関心をもって見ていもらいました。しかし、発言するのが恥ずかしいせいか、高校生たちに意見を聞いても、返事をしてくれる学生がはあまりいませんでした。

講座が終わる前に、何かを学ぶとき、生徒と先生、どちらが重要だと思うか聞いてみました。私が思うに、言語でも、ほかの科目でも、自分から興味をもって、学びたいという態度を取らなければなりません。例え先生が一生懸命何かを教えようとしても、それを理解しようと努力しなければ、何もなりません。今の時代では、インターネットで動画やニュースに簡単にアクセスできるため、興味さえ持っていれば、先生がいなくても自分で調べられます。このブログも、英語力と日本語力を生かしながら、オレゴンと富山についてもっと深く知ることができたら、と思っています。

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Opportunity for students of Japanese: Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest

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(日本語版は英語版の下にあります)

Every year, in conjunction with the Japan-America Society of Oregon, Toyama Prefecture sponsors a Japanese language speech contest for college and university students in the state of Oregon. The Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest first began in 1996, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Toyama and Oregon. Students who compete will not only improve their Japanese and public speaking abilities, but also stand to win prizes, with the grand-prize winner getting an all-expenses-paid trip to Toyama Prefecture! The winner will spend a week enjoying the beautiful scenery and wonderful food of Toyama, as well as meeting locals and taking part in a variety of hands-on experiences. See JASO’s webpage for more details and information about how to register.

In order to give prospective participants an idea of what to expect, I am sharing the experiences of Lauren Inaba, the 2015 winner below. I hope that this serves as an inspiration and reminder; the next winner could be you!

I was able to tour the Nanto area with Lauren and Anya, the Russian winner of the Vladivostok Japanese Speech Contest, during their stay in Toyama this past September. We had a wonderful time visiting Zuisenji Temple, making our own Japanese paper, seeing the historic villages of Gokayama, and making our own toasted rice crackers! I asked Lauren to send me a review of her experience after her trip… Here it is!

How was the speech contest?

I entered the speech contest for the second time after my study abroad. The first time I had competed in the speech contest it was in a different division and it was more about the experience of doing a speech contest. This time I was more interested in hearing everyone else’s speeches. My speech was about one of my own experiences in Japan; I knew I wanted to speak about an experience that made me laugh, and have fun with the speech – I didn’t want to be serious the entire time if I didn’t have to be. I chose to speak about my first time at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, during the beginning of my study abroad. In short, I made a cultural mistake and got scolded by an older Japanese lady, who had mistaken me for a Japanese girl from Japan. It caused me to wonder about how differently the situation might have turned out if she had instead thought of me as a foreigner, and what it would have been like if I were a male.

First impression of Toyama

IMG_8573My first impression was when I saw the Toyama station on my first day. For some reason I had expected a smaller station and figured Toyama would be more country than city. However, what stuck out most in my trip to Toyama were my interactions with everyone and the conversations we had. Sometimes it was about differences between Vladivostok, Toyama, and Oregon, other times it was about topics such as the pros and cons of having the appearance of a foreigner in Japan compared to having the appearance of a Japanese.

I was aware that Japan is full of historic and beautiful places to see, and Toyama is no exception. Tateyama was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was able to compare the giant cedar trees to the giant redwood trees in Oregon. During my visit to Gokayama, I was impressed by the uniqueness of the gassho-style houses, and that it is the only World Heritage site in Japan that is maintaining not only a historically and culturally significant place but a lifestyle – people still live within the houses in the village and have been maintaining them, changing the thatching every twenty years. I became interested in doing things one could only do in Toyama, so I tried the white shrimp, the masuzushi, and even a bit of Toyama sake.

What was the highlight of the trip?

I have a hard time picking one highlight as I felt that there was a highlight from each day of my trip. I did enjoy spending a day with the students just walking around, talking and relaxing at Kansui Park after shopping in Toyama city. I am very glad I chose to do a home-stay during the trip. I had done a home-stay before, but talking until late into the night with my host mother about anything out of the blue and watching the news in the morning with my host father when I woke up too early were priceless moments to me.

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日本語を学んでいる方:チャンス!富山カップ日本語スピーチコンテスト

毎年、オレゴン州の日米協会と協力して、富山県はオレゴン州の大学生のため日本語スピーチコンテストを主催しています。富山県とオレゴン州の姉妹関係5周年の1996年から行われています。大学生にとっては、日本語能力とパブリックスピーキングを磨く機会だけではなく、素敵な賞品も獲得できるチャンスです。優勝者は、すべての経費無料で、一週間富山県の旅を楽しんでいただけます!富山の雄大な自然や美味しい食べ物、フレンドリーな人々、面白い体験が待っているので、ぜひスピーチコンテストに挑戦してみてください!スピーチコンテストの申込み方法などの詳細は、JASOのHPにてご覧ください。

IMG_8574スピーチコンテストがどのようなものか知っていただくため、2015年の優勝者ローレン・イナバさんの経験を皆様に報告します。今年、富山へ来たのはローレンさんでしたが、来年の優勝者はあなたかもしれません!?

私はローレンさんとロシア・ウラジオストク日本語スピーチコンテストの優勝者であるアンナさんとともに一日を過ごしました。富山県の名所瑞泉寺と世界遺産の五箇山合掌造り集落、和紙すき体験とせんべい焼き体験も楽しみました!ローレンさんの旅が終わった後、スピーチコンテストや富山の印象について、聞いてみました。

スピーチコンテストは、いかがでしたか?

留学をする前にも一度参加しましたが、留学を経てレベルの高い部門に再度応募しました。一度目はいい経験として、今回はほかの参加者のスピーチを聞くことにより興味を持ちました。私のスピーチは日本での経験話でしたが、重いテーマではなく、面白いものと決め、スピーチを楽しむことにしました。結果として、北野天満宮へ初めて行ったときの話をしました。要約すると、私は文化的に礼儀正しくないことを思わずやってしまい、日本人のおばさんに叱られたのです。そのおばさんは私が日本人と勘違いしていたようだったが、もし私が外国人だと分かっていたら、もし、私が男の人だったら、叱られなかったのではないかと、考えさせられました。

9.16写真②(j表敬後、北日本新聞社に依頼され提供)富山の初印象

私の初めての印象は富山駅でした。
富山はもっと田舎だと思っていたので、大きく、そして新しい駅に少しびっくりしました。また、富山でもっとも印象深かったのは、出会った人とその人との会話です。富山やオレゴン州、ウラジオストクの違いなど、色々と話し合いました。また、日本で生活すると、日系やアジア系の人は外国人と思われないこともあるようですが、そのメリットとデメリットについても、興味深い話を色々と行いました。

日本では歴史的で自然が豊富なところが多くあることは知っていましたが、富山も負けていません。立山は本当に綺麗で、大きな杉がオレゴン州の大きなレッドウッドを思い出させてくれました。五箇山では、独特な合掌造り集落に感動しました。人がまだこの世界遺産で生活を営み、屋根のかやを新しくする等、その歴史や文化を守り続けているのです。富山でしか味わえないものも食べたいと思い、白エビやますずし、富山の日本酒も堪能しました。


旅のハイライトは?

毎日ハイライトがあったので、一つに選ぶことはできません。富山の高校・大学生との買い物、散策、環水公園で話したことは楽しかったです。ホームステイもとてもよかったです。ホームステイは初めてではなかったのですが、ホストマザーと夜遅くまでお話ししたり、ホストファザーと朝のニュースを見たりするのは、素敵な経験でした。