The 2018 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest

Originally written for the Vol.12-No.2 edition (June 18, 2018) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The Toyama Cup is a Japanese speech contest held every year in Portland in cooperation with JASO (the Japan-America Society of Oregon) to recognize the fruits of Oregon students’ Japanese studies. It first began in 1996, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Toyama and Oregon. Jack Glenn from Willamette University won the Grand Prize for this year’s 22nd Toyama Cup, held on April 22nd. His prize includes a week-long trip to Toyama where he will visit the many sites that make our beautiful prefecture famous. Jack will be coming in July, and join the many other Grand Prize winners who have made the trip from Oregon to Toyama over the years, continuing to build the bridge of friendship between our two regions. We look for new participants every year so if you happen to know someone who would be interested, encourage them to apply next year! For more information, please visit the JASO website here.

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Visit to Mizuhashi High School

IMG_1680This 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 cross-cultural communication and the wonderful friendship between Toyama and Oregon.

Visit to Mizuhashi High School

On Tuesday, December 8th, I made the short trip over to Mizuhashi High School to speak with 1st and 2nd year students about Oregon and the sister-state relationship. It was a beautiful day, and during the 25-minute drive from Toyama City, I enjoyed some stunningly clear views of the mountains. The previous month, Mr. Goto, one of my co-workers in the International Affairs Division of Toyama Prefecture, had told me that Mizuhashi was his alma mater. I had learned that Mizuhashi was well known for its strong sports programs, and many students come to pursue athletics in addition to academics. Mr. Goto had also been part of the sports course, on the baseball team. Talking about the school on our drive over, my supervisor and I decided to ask the teachers if they remembered him!

IMG_1675My class was scheduled to start at 3 p.m., after the school day had finished. We arrived a couple of minutes early, and I was greeted by Ms. Nakasai, the teacher I had been in contact with regarding the class. We proceeded on to the computer lab, so that I could hook up my laptop and make sure that everything was working correctly. I arrived to find the students ready and waiting, their faces partially hidden behind the computer monitors at each seat on the table. As I prepared, some students moved their seats out from behind the tables, and came right up to the front so they could see. I was in a playful mood, so I walked around and shook everyone’s hand before starting, and tried to get everyone involved right away, asking questions and encouraging them to react. I switched back and forth between using Japanese and English as I introduced information about the sister-state relationship and Oregon’s geography, people and food. During a quiz section, I asked students to answer multiple choice questions about the year that Oregon became a U.S. state, and Oregon’s area and population. Some students responded that they didn’t know, and I jokingly told them that it cannot hurt to guess; there is no penalty for a wrong answer! I got the feeling that some students were not accustomed the interactive style, so I explained that there is no problem with not knowing, but that the lecture would be more interesting if they tried to participate. Later on, I saw that the students became more interested as I showed pictures of Oregon food. Everyone seemed to get involved when I put up pictures of Voodoo Doughnuts and Blue Star Donuts, and asked them which one they would rather try. Food is a powerful motivator!!

IMG_1671By the end of the class, I felt that students had opened up more. I certainly have a lot of respect for them, considering that they stayed after school to listen to my class as an extra activity. I hope that by using this lecture as a chance to interact with me and each other, they could have fun with the learning process. Thank you to everyone for listening! I hope that all of you will be able to go and experience Oregon for yourselves!

 

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IMG_1683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。

水橋高等学校へ

IMG_168212月8日(火)、水橋高等学校の1・2年生を対象に富山とオレゴンの姉妹関係について講座を行いました。天気の良い日で、富山市から学校へ向かう25分間は、山々の素晴らしい景色を楽しみました。水橋高校は、国際課で私の同僚である後藤さんの母校です。また、スポーツコースが強いことで知られており、後藤さんも野球部に所属していたと聞いたので、学校の先生に後藤さんのことを覚えているかを聞いてみることにしました。

講座は、学校が終わったあと3時から始まる予定でした。講座を担当されている中斉先生にコンピュータ室へ案内していただき、さっそくパソコンやプロジェクターの準備を始めました。コンピュータモニターの後ろに顔が半分隠れている生徒たちは、静かに待っていました。後ろに座っていた生徒の何人はスライドが見えるように、椅子を移動しながら前へ近づいてきました。はじめに私は機嫌よく、一人ひとりと握手し挨拶をしました。日本語と英語を交えながら、姉妹関係やオレゴンの地理、人、食事などについて説明し、生徒たちに質問したり、意見を聞いたりして、コミュニケーションを取ろうとしました。クイズで、オレゴンの州立記念日や面積、人口について選択問題を出しましたが、「わからない」という生徒がいました。正解が分からなくてもいいから当ててみて、と冗談っぽく言いました。講座に参加することがあまり慣れていない生徒もいたようでしたが、自分のためにも、参加してみたほうがいいと私は伝えました。間違えても、怒られるわけではありませんし、ただ座って話を聞くより、質問をするほうが楽しいと思います。

講座を続けていくと、皆が興味をもって聞いたのはオレゴンの食べ物の話でした!特に、ブーデゥー・ドーナツと、ブルースター・ドーナツ、どちらを食べてみたいかを聞いたところ、皆参加してくれました。食べ物はモチベーションにつながりますね!

生徒たちのフレンドリーな態度のおかげで、楽しい講座になりました。私の講座を聞くために学校が終わった後も、残ってくれて、皆さんは素晴らしいと思います!お互いに話し合うことができ、楽しかったです。この講座を機会に、オレゴン州に興味を持ち、いつか自分でオレゴンへ行けるといいですね!

Visit to Oyabe Kanda Junior High School

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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 Oyabe Kanda Junior High School

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The cloudy morning of November 19th saw my supervisor Ms. Sanno and me heading out to Oyabe Kanda JHS to do the Toyama-Oregon outreach lecture with a group of 3rd year students. We had left the office with little time to spare, and navigating the country roads proved to be a little bit slower than expected, so I called ahead and let the school office know that we would be arriving just as the lecture was scheduled to start. The school sat upon a hill, overlooking the surrounding area; Ms. Sanno commented that it must be tough for the students to get to school, since most kids walk or go by bicycle.

IMG_1456After arriving, we were quickly led up to the lecture room by Kitano sensei. Walking up the stairs she apologized while explaining that she had subconsciously assumed I was a woman, because my last name is Leon and there is a girl in her class called Rion (the names are pronounced the same way in Japanese). She said that she realized at the last moment after looking at my profile, but had told the students earlier that I was a woman. I laughed it off – these sort of misunderstandings are common when dealing with unfamiliar names! After reaching the lecture room where the students were already seated on the floor waiting, I quickly prepared my laptop, and was able to get started just on time.

My initial impression was that the group of 38 students was a bit quieter than the group of 1st year junior high students I had seen earlier in the month. I wondered to myself if students are more self-conscious about speaking out in front of their peers by 3rd year. Since I had 80 minutes for the lecture this time, I was able to incorporate more discussion activities, and I noticed that students began to open up more as the class went on. By the end, I saw that students were much more comfortable asking questions and expressing their opinions. I was surprised and happy that when the class ended, a group of students approached me and began asking questions about Oregon, U.S. culture, and my life in Japan. I could tell that they were genuinely interested, and also excited to use English. I even met Rion, the girl who shares my name! We talked for about 10 minutes, discussing their interests, reasons for wanting to study abroad. It was the first time that students approached me in such a friendly way after giving a lecture, and I felt energized afterwards, thinking that my presentation left an impression on them. I want to say thank you to those students for taking an interest and speaking with me!

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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。

小矢部市立蟹谷中学校へ

11月19日の朝、曇り空の中、担当者の参納さんと一緒に、3年生を対象とした富山オレゴン出前講座を行うため小矢部市立蟹谷中学校に向かいました。移動時間は思った以上に長く、ぎりぎりに到着するようだったため、学校に電話をかけ、遅刻するかもしれないと伝えました。学校は坂の上にあり周囲を見渡せるところにありました。自転車や徒歩で学校に通う生徒たちは大変だろうと、参納さんは話していました。

学校へ着くと、北野先生に講座を行う教室へ案内していただきました。階段を上りながら、北野先生が私に謝りました。私の名字はリオンで、担任しているクラスの中で「りおん」という女子生徒がいるため、女性だと勘違いしてしまい、プロフィールを見て、男性だと気がついたものの、すでに生徒たちに女性だと言ってしまったようでした。私は少し笑いながら、大丈夫だと言いました。慣れていない名前であれば、こういう誤解はよくあることです!教室へ着くと、生徒たちは床に座って待っていたので、すぐにパソコンの準備をし、何とか時間通りに講座を始めました。

38名の3年生を対象に講座を行いましたが、前回の中学校1年生と比べると静かだという第一印象でした。3年生になると恥ずかしくなり、あまり人前で発言したくないのではないかと思いました。しかし、80分の講座の間、ディスカッションやアクティビティなどを行っていくと、生徒たちは少しずつ慣れ、最後には自分の意見や質問を自由に話してくれました。講座が終わると、何人かの生徒が残り、話しかけてくれました。オレゴン州やアメリカの文化、日本での生活について質問をし、好奇心や英語への興味が伝わってきて、私は嬉しくなりました。私と同じ名前の「りおん」さんにも会いました!約10分間、勉強や留学、様々な話題について話しました。こうやって講座が終わった後、生徒たちがフレンドリーに話しかけてくれるのは、今回が初めてでした。おかげで講座をするやりがいを強く感じ、元気が出ました。興味を持ってプレゼンテーションを聞き、そして話しかけてくれて、ありがとうございました!

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Visit to Oyabe Otani Junior High School

IMG_1350This 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.

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Visit to Oyabe Otani Junior High School

On Tuesday, November 10th, I spoke about Oregon and the Toyama-Oregon sister state relationship in front of a group of 83 Oyabe Otani JHS 1st year students. While my supervisor Ms. Sanno and I drove out to Oyabe, I revised my presentation again on my laptop. Thinking about how to communicate with my youngest audience yet, I decided to try to make the slides less wordy and focus more on the interactive sections of the lecture. As we approached the school, I was surprised by its unique architecture: my first impression was that the school looked like something out of a European fairy tale. The huge gate and clock tower stood out against the surrounding fields, sharply contrasting with the Japanese-style farm houses nearby. Ms. Sanno explained that the entire area is actually famous for this architecture, and in fact, Oyabe is nicknamed the “Märchen town”, referring to the German word for fairy tale!

We entered the school to find a quite normal interior design, and were quickly greeted by the school principal and Ms. Matsuda, the teacher in charge of the organizing the lecture. As we walked through the school, and I was impressed by how outgoing the students were, greeting me as I walked past their classrooms. When we reached the lecture hall, I was surprised to find that it was a completely empty room with no place to sit, but Matsuda sensei informed me that students would be bringing their own chairs. As I waited for the kids to arrive, I put on some music and spoke a bit with Matsuda sensei about the kids and my ideas for the blog entries. I was also able to speak to ALT Tim Chakaodza, who had nothing but good things to say about the kids and the community. Motivated by his enthusiasm, I felt ready to get started!

When the kids came in carrying their chairs and smiling, I could tell that they were an energetic and fun group. They lined up their chairs in tight rows towards the front, their faces shining with excitement and expectation. As I went into my talk, I was happy to find that they were happy to participate, raising their hands, answering questions and even laughing at my jokes! I used English in certain parts, but also explained in Japanese in difficult sections – the students were very active and friendly, even helping to finish my sentences when I forgot words in Japanese. Near the end of class, when I asked them to work together and think of questions for people living in Oregon, they asked some of the most interesting questions of any group yet. Although I tried to answer a couple of their questions, I told them to actually ask people in Oregon. They responded with puzzled looks… “How can we talk to people in Oregon?” At that point I told them about the Toyama Hot News blog, and encouraged them to use resources like Facebook and online videos to search for information they are interested in.

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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。

小矢部市立大谷中学校へ

11月10日(火)に、小矢部市立大谷中学校一年生83人の前でオレゴン州と富山県の姉妹関係について話しました。小矢部へ向かう車中、パソコンでプレゼンテーションの内容を再度確認しました。今回は今までで最も若いグループで、コミュニケーションをよくとれるようにスライドの文字を少なくし、アクティビティ中心の内容に調整しました。学校が見えてくると、まず校舎の姿に驚きました。大きな門や時計台が周囲の田んぼや農家と対照的で目立っていました。第一印象は、ヨーロッパの民話から出てきたもののようでした。一緒に行った担当者の参納さんの説明によると、小矢部の地域は「メルヘンのまち」として知られ、独特な建築があちこちにあるそうです。

学校へ入ると、校長先生と講座を担当されている松田先生が出迎えてくださいました。廊下を歩いている、教室に座っている生徒たちが元気な挨拶で迎えてくれました。講座を行うホールへ着くと、机や椅子が何一つなく、どうなるかと少し心配しましたが、自分たちの椅子を持ってくると教えてくださいました。生徒たちが来るのを待つ間、音楽を流し、松田先生とプレゼンテーションの内容について話しました。ALTのティム先生と話す機会もあり、子供たちと地域への熱意が十分伝わってきました。そのパッションが私にもうつり、ますますやる気が出ました。

学生たちが椅子を持ち入ってくると、皆好奇心と楽しみにあふれた笑顔でした。講座が始まると、生徒たちは積極的に手をあげ、質問に答えてくれ、私の冗談にも笑ってくれたので、とても楽しかったです。講座では英語を使い、難しいところは日本語で説明しましたが、わからない日本語を生徒たちが教えてくれることもあり、そのフレンドリーな態度に感動しました。講座の最後に、オレゴン州に住んでいる人たちへの質問について、今までで一番面白い質問がいくつか出ました。私も少し答えましたが、実際にオレゴンの人たちに聞いてみたらどうかと言ったところ、どうやってオレゴンの人たちと話せるのかと皆は戸惑っていました。そこで、この富山ホットニュースブログについて説明し、Facebookやビデオでの調べ方も紹介しました。

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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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Visit to Toyama Nishi High School

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!

Visit to Yoshie Junior High School

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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。