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.


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。


                             Kobayashi Sensei