Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 JET Memorial Invitation Program


Hello from sunny southern California. My name is Thomas and I work at the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles!

太陽の光あふれる南カルフォニアからこんにちは!国際交流基金 ロサンゼルス日本文化センターのThomasです!

I want to share with you a program we organize called the JET Memorial Invitation Program (JET-MIP), which was started last year after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, to commemorate the lives of two Americans participating in the JET program named Taylor Anderson and Montgomery Dickson who sadly lost their lives during the disaster.

今回は国際交流基金が主催した「米国 JET 記念高校生招へい事業」というプログラムをご紹介しますね。東日本大震災の後、昨年スタートしたプログラムで、JETプログラムに参加されていたTaylor Anderson さんとMontgomery Dicksonさんという二人のアメリカ人を追悼するためのプログラムです。お二人は本当に残念なことに震災でお亡くなりになりました。


Participants for this program were selected from schools all across the United States and they have all been studying Japanese all throughout high school and most had never been to Japan. Their first stop was in Los Angeles where they participated in a pre-departure orientation at our office. Then it was off to Japan.



During their initial stay, the participants learned about the institute, the JET program, and even some Tohoku dialect. They also spent some time making a collage showing various landmarks in the United States and cities where they are from. This was later presented to the elementary schools they visited. Then it was off to the Tohoku region.

オリエンテーションでは、参加者は国際交流基金 関西国際センターやJETプログラムについて、そしてなんと東北弁についても学びました。そして、アメリカのランドマークや自分たちの地元の街のランドマークのコラージュを作成したりもしました。このコラージュは、日本を訪れた際に小学校で披露されました。そしてこのオリエンテーションの後、高校生たちは東北へと向かったのでした。


While in the Tohoku region, they visited an elementary school and also participated in the first ever high school summit with students from two local high schools in Rikuzentakata. The topic of the summit was how they can work together for the future and after the discussions; the students presented their findings. This was a good opportunity for the participants to exchange ideas with their counterparts in Japan and make some new friends in the process.



The last few days in Tohoku were spent orienteering in Sendai and then it was off to Ishinomaki where the participants visited the local elementary school where Taylor Anderson taught and also Taylor’s Bunko (Reading corner), which was created in her memory. Later that day they had an exchange with the Kiwi Club, an English conversation group where Taylor taught and made friends. This event wrapped up the Tohoku portion of the trip as the participants returned to Sendai that night and flew back to Osaka the following day.

東北滞在の後半、高校生たちは仙台でのオリエンテーションに参加しました。その後、石巻に移動し、Taylor Andersonさんが英語を教えていた地元の小学校とTaylor さんを追悼して設けられたTaylor’s Bunko(読書コーナー)を訪れました。同じ日にTaylorさんが英語を教え、親交があった英会話サークル「Kiwi Club」と交流しました。このイベントをもって東北訪問は終了し、参加者たちは夜には仙台へ戻り、翌日仙台から大阪へと飛行機で旅立ちました。


Upon their return, they paid a visit to a local High School where they met their host brother or sister. Together, they travelled to the Consulate General of the United States in Osaka to talk about themes relating to international diplomacy. After visiting the Consulate, the students parted ways and the next day was spent in the classroom going over the Tohoku trip, learning Osaka dialect, and preparing for the weekend homestay.



The big weekend finally arrived when the American students met their host families for a weekend of cultural experience in the Kansai region. When they returned from their homestay, the cultural experience continued at the Institute with workshops covering Wadaikos and Yukatas. On the final day at the institute, preparations began for the trip home and also for the completion ceremony. After the introductory speeches, the participants had a final chance to talk with their host families and even performed a song and dance. The night ended with final goodbyes and the next day, the group departed Osaka for the wrap-up meeting in Los Angeles.



At the wrap up meeting, the participants presented their experiences in Japan. Many talked about their eye opening experience, the friendly people they met during the trip and the new friends they made. This experience motivated them more to continue studying Japanese and eventually participate in exchange programs such as the JET program just like Taylor Anderson and Montgomery Dickson. After the meeting, the participants had one more night together as the program slowly came to a close. The following day, each participant would leave just as they had arrived and return back to their hometowns all across the United States.

ラップアップミーティングでは、参加者たちは日本で経験したことについてプレゼンをしました。多くの高校生たちが、初めて経験して驚いたこと、日本滞在中に出会った人たちのフレンドリーさ、新しく生まれた友情などについて触れました。今回のプログラムを経験し、高校生たちは日本語の勉強を続けたいとの思いをよりいっそう強くし、Taylor AndersonさんやMontgomery DicksonさんのようにJETプログラムなどの交流プログラムに参加したいとの声も聞かれました。ミーティングのあった日の夜は、もう一晩共に過ごし、プログラムの終わりがだんだんと近づいてきたのでした。翌日、参加者たちは初めてロサンゼルス日本文化センターにやって来た時と同じように、全米各地の地元の街へとそれぞれに戻っていきました。


I will be writing a more detailed overview of the trip in an eight part series in our monthly newsletter below. There you will also be able to read the essays written by the students, which will be distributed across the next eight issues. Hope you all enjoy their stories (English Only).



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Auspeaks Japanese


Beginning just three and a half years ago, with only three members, Auspeak is at the hub of Sydney’s language and cultural exchange between Australia and Japanese people. Meeting in a safe and casual context in a central Sydney Hotel, Auspeak is a friendly social gathering allowing Australians and Japanese to practise speaking Japanese and English, respectively. However as its members will attest to, Auspeak is much more than just a fortnightly language exchange event. More importantly it promotes cultural exchange and understanding and is a testament to numerous long standing inter-cultural friendships.


Now with a regular attendance of about fifty people, even the founder John is astounded at the growing success of Auspeak. “I started it because after returning from living in Japan, my Japanese friends in Sydney kept complaining they had no opportunity to meet locals. And I too wanted to keep up my Japanese so I wouldn’t forget it upon returning home.’ And so began the simple yet effective concept of Auspeak.


The meetings follow a constructive formula, where half hour time slots are alternated between English and Japanese, ensuring all participants can practise their language of choice. With no monetary membership fee, all are welcome and all that is required is a smile! Upon arrival members are given a short bilingual printout, which they are encouraged to fill out with five new words they have learnt from that day’s conversations. And of course the most important rule is to mingle! Interacting with lots of new people and engaging in interesting, often humorous conversations is all part of the fun!


Auspeak sees an eclectic mix of participants. Sprawling across half of the ground floor area of a popular Sydney Hotel, there is always a constant flow of lively chatter. At times it seems like a party, with people almost screaming over raucous laughter and excitement in order to remain audible! Miyuki Sato, a second timer at Auspeak, loves this casual and fun way of learning compared to the formal environment of her Sydney Language Institute, where she studies English on a daily basis. “I like meeting and talking with Australians so I can learn natural English and it’s fun here! Last time we went and tried salsa dancing after class together!” As evidence she is learning useful every day idioms, one of her newly learnt phrases of the day was “spread the word”, which ironically epitomises exactly what she has done since discovering Auspeak.

Auspeakには実に様々な人が参加されています。街でも人気のSydney Hotelのグランドフロアの半分を占めて、たくさんの人が絶え間なくおしゃべりをしています。時にはパーティのような盛り上がりを見せ、自分の声が騒々しい笑い声にかき消されないようにと、ほとんど叫んでいるかのような声でおしゃべりしています(笑)。Auspeakに参加するのは2度目だというMiyuki Satoさんは、カジュアルな雰囲気で楽しく学ぶことができるAuspeakが大好きだそうです。ちなみに、Satoさんが毎日英語を勉強しているというSydney Language Instituteは、もっとフォーマルな感じらしいです。「自然な英語を学ぶことができるので、Auspeakの集まりでオーストラリア人に会っておしゃべりするのが楽しいんです!前回は会の後に、みんなでサルサを踊りに行きました!」どうやら、Satoさんは日常生活で役立つイディオムを学んでいるようです。直近で学んだフレーズは、ズバリ「言葉を広める」というもの。図らずも彼女がAuspeakと出会って以来、してきたことですね。

Australia is renowned as a desirable destination for foreigners wanting to learn English, Sydney is often advertised as a city of golden sandy beaches, a picturesque harbour and cute cuddly koalas enticing thousands of temporary and permanent Japanese visitors yearly. But perhaps more importantly, Auspeak ensures Japanese people in Australia experience something which can’t be advertised on paper, an authentic Aussie Sunday get-together, chatting over a drink and having a laugh. No wonder Auspeak is the talk of the town!




Wednesday, September 12, 2012

 From still boiling hot Tokyo! 秋が来ない。。。@東京





I’m a student of Waseda University, working here at the Japan Foundation Information Center through internship program for 2 weeks. The Japan Foundation is the organization I have always always been curious about (since primary school!), so I was very much excited when I heard about this internship program. Everyone here is sooooo nice and working hard every day. Although I imagined the “atmosphere” (Japanese people love this word, “Fu-n-i-ki”) of the office was more formal before coming here, it is actually very cheerful, so I really love it!


By the way, today, I am going to show the inside of the head office where the Information Center is located. My favorite place in this building is stairs. Each floor has a unique poster which really makes me laugh!


Going UP UP UP!!



5th Floor- “Health” is running away using stairs…

If you find him, you will get「Happiness」!!



6th Floor- Now you have reached here, you are allowed

to drink 1/10 glass of beer!!



Aren't they sweet? Apparently those signs are remains from the last year's strict electricity saving after the 3.11 disaster in East Japan. Such strict energy saving is not required now, but many people choose to use stairs this year as well.



I have just realized that I only have 3 more days to go… time flies here…

I want to say many many thanks to all the people I met here, and I promise I will do my best until I finish my internship program.

Thank you for reading. Have a nice week:)


TsuTsu@ Internship Program, JFIC