Fall | Winter 2018 Newsletter

Notes from Mari Maruyama, Executive Director

Greetings from Seattle! Summer has come and gone, the holiday season is in full swing, and students are frantically finishing reports and studying for finals before the semester ends. With the end of the semester, 154 short term J.F. Oberlin University students will be heading back to Japan in the next week. In addition, 24 Reconnaissance Japan students are in their last months of their Fall Semester at JFOU. Of these, 13 be returning to the U.S. in a month or so in order to begin their Spring Semesters. Two RJ students have decided to extend their Japan experience and will remain at JFOU for another semester. 

A few weeks ago, Fumitake Nakamura, Yuta Umezu, and Akihito Fukushima from JFOU’s Office of International Programs joined me on a brief tour of some of our partner institutions in the South. Although the weather was inclement and unseasonably chilly, the warmth of the welcomes we received more than compensated for the cold temperatures! We thank our fellow international educators at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Valdosta University, Georgia Tech, Mercer University, Oglethorpe University, and the University of Memphis for your hospitality. We look forward to seeming many at NAFSA as well as visiting other partners in 2019. 

Last but not least, please visit our updated OGFA website. It includes new short videos of students participating in various study abroad programs. 

We hope you enjoy this Fall issue and we wish you all a wonderful holiday season. 
Lisa Goins and Daniel Harper with students at the University of Memphis.
Japan America Society of Georgia’s Yoshi Domoto and former OGFA director Maria Domoto at Bytes.
Students at Mercer University.
With Valdosta University colleagues, Ivan Nikolov, Irina McClellan and David Starling.
With University of North Carolina Charlotte colleague Joël Gallegos.

Stories from the Obirin Community

Thank you for the opportunity to share our student's experiences with you and news about our programs. 

Professor Stacey Halpern conducts biology research in Japan, with her daughter along side.

By Scot Dobberfuhl, Program Coordinator, English Language Institute, Pacific University.

Professor Stacey Halpren and LAGO students.
ステーシー アルペン教授とカリーナを囲む 桜美林大学LAGOプロブラムの学生たち。
パシフィック大学の教授ステーシー・アルペンは、フルブライトの助成金を授与し札幌と京都で生物学研究に携わることになりました。彼女は、娘のカリーナを日本に一緒に連れて行き、地元の公立小学校に通わせる予定でした。2018年の春、LA GOプログラムの学生たちは、2人に日本語と日本文化の基礎を教えるため、定期的にアルペルン教授とカリーナに会いました。数の数え方、色、体の部分の名称、挨拶、起立、着席などの指導、先生への朝の挨拶など、学校で基本的に生徒が期待される動作や文化を理解できるような練習をしました。 
アルペルン教授は現在、京都大学の生態学研究センターに籍をおいています。先生とカリーナは夏をそこで過ごし、つくば市と盛岡市にあるフィールド・サイトを訪問し、また、札幌にある北海道大学で同僚と協力しながら、データ収集をしています。カリーナは、現在地元の小学校に通っています。友達も出来て、ひらがなと漢字の読み書きに著しい成果が見られています。今では、毎日の日課を理解し、遠足に参加し、給食係をし、運動会にも参加しました!カリーナがLA GOプログラムの桜美林生たちと練習した語句は、現在日本で同級生や先生とコミュニケーションを取る際に役立っています。特に毎週学生と、どこに何があるのかを練習する「カリーナはどこ?」ゲームは、カリーナとアルペン教授に、大変役に立ちました。毎週、食料品売り場で、それを使っています!
アルペルン教授は、カリーナに面白く、楽しく日本語を教えてくれたLA GOプログラムの桜美林生を、賞賛しています。実際、芝生で学習ゲームをしたり、チョークで歩道に日本のキャラクターを描いたりしていたカリーナとLAGOプログラムの学生たちの姿は、キャンパスでお馴染みの風景となりました。LA GOの学生たちは、パシフィック大学の評議会と大学長に会う機会にも恵まれました。その後、学生たちは、評議会で、自分たちがしてきた奉仕の簡単な発表をして、ディスカッション内での質問にも答えました。
Every year, LAGO students studying at Pacific University’s English Language Institute make positive and lasting service contributions to our community. Students have planted trees in local parks, picked up litter from hiking trails, and helped pack boxes for local food pantries. LAGO students have also willingly shared their expertise with American students who are studying Japanese by acting as language practice partners and supporting Japanese cultural events on campus. Last spring, however, the LAGO students were able to assist two members of the Pacific community in a truly special way.

Pacific University Professor Stacey Halpern recently received a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct biology research in Sapporo and Kyoto. She planned to take her daughter Carina to Japan with her and enroll Carina in a local public elementary school. During the spring of 2018, the LAGO students met regularly with Professor Halpern and Carina to introduce them to basic ideas about Japanese language and culture (counting, colors, names of some body parts, greetings, some basic commands such as “Sit” and “Stand” for school) and to make sure Carina understood the basic expectations and culture of school, such as greeting teachers in the morning.

Professor Halpern is currently in Kyoto, where she is affiliated with the Center for Ecological Research at Kyoto University. She and Carina spent the summer there, visiting field sites in Tsukuba City and Morioka, collecting data, and collaborating with her colleagues at Hokkaido University in Sapporo. Carina is now enrolled in a local public elementary school. She has made friends and is making excellent progress in reading and writing kanji and both kanas. She now understands the daily routines, has gone on a field trip, has served school lunch, and has even participated in the undoukai at her school! The words and phrases Carina practiced with the students are now helping her communicate with her classmates and teachers in Japan. In fact, the “Carina wa doko” game which students played with Carina every week was especially helpful as it gave both Carina and her mom practice with asking where things are—they use it every week in the grocery store!

Professor Halpern commended the LAGO students for introducing Carina to Japanese language in fun and exciting ways. In fact, Carina and the LAGO students became a familiar site on campus as they played learning games on the lawn or drew Japanese characters on the sidewalks with chalk. The LAGO students even had the chance to meet with Pacific University’s Board of Trustees and President. They shared a short presentation about their work and answered questions during the following discussion.

Because of Carina’s positive impressions of befriending and being befriended by the LAGO students, she continues to be excited about meeting people in Japan!
Left: Carina walking into sports festival. Right: Wonderful LAGO student teaching Carina the Japanese Alphabet.

Rena Tanabe, an aspiring buyer embraces a Long-term study program at SFSU.

By Rena Tanabe, Senior, College of Business Management, 2018–2019
長期留学プログラム サンフランシスコ州立大学 

Rena enjoying seasonal activities. Rena is 2nd from left in Pumpkin patch.





I went to the English Language Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, for four months in 2016. Now in 2018, I’m studying at San Francisco State University for a year as an exchange student. It was the experience in Atlanta that brought me back to study in an academic department at SFSU.
My TOEIC score was only 500, and I had no experience speaking English when I went to the language school. Since junior high school, I had thought that I was not good at learning English, and I could not study well, either. Thus, English was my least favorite subject. However, my dream since I was young has been to become a “buyer,” somebody who purchases products from foreign countries and brings them back to Japan. I want to work both in foreign countries and in Japan, so I decided to participate in Business Management’s GO program and went to Atlanta.
I had a hard time ordering food in restaurants and shopping at stores after I arrived in the U. S. Because of my bad English pronunciation and not knowing how to express what I wanted, I was confused many times. Often, kind people somehow guessed what I wanted to say and responded, but sometimes there weren’t such nice people around. Some made fun of me because I could not say what I wanted to say, and some just ignored me. Through those experiences, I realized that I needed to be able to communicate with all kinds of people in order to be a strong and active buyer. 
I studied with foreign students from various countries at the language school. It was hard to study with students with different values from those of Japanese. There was one student who started a serious quarrel with a teacher, and it was very awkward during class. It was hard to speak up instead of just observing the class. I also had an opportunity to observe university classes while I was there. Unlike at a Japanese university, there were many active classes. From that experience too, I started to think that I wanted to communicate in English better and also wanted to study something in English at a university, rather than just studying English.
Now I am taking academic courses at the university that I long hoped to attend. In my classes, there are many group projects and presentations, unlike in Japanese universities, and I am very busy. However, it is very fulfilling. Along with attending classes, I am planning to do an internship. I want to have as many experiences as possible working in the States before graduatation. I will do my best for the rest of my study abroad program in order to become somebody who can connect Japan and foreign countries in the future.  

At the University of Tennessee, I met one of my heroes, and realized my path forward.

By Shun Kitagawa, Geibun GO Program, Fall 2018, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Shun with Zendaya, a movie actress.

During my participation in J. F. Oberlin’s four-month study abroad program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, I was able to meet a Hollywood actor named Tom Holland. It sounds like pure luck to have coincidentally seen him filming when I was traveling to New York during Fall break. However, if I look at it subjectively, it was fate that brought me there. He has always been a hero to me, and meeting him in person was a goal of my life. At the moment we had eye contact, I realized that my life was now “complete.”

There are many reasons why someone wants to study abroad. I’ve been told too often by my parents, “Do your best to find employment.” Of course, I intend to find a job, but what they mean by “employment” is “employed for life by a large Japanese corporation.” I am a film major at J. F. Oberlin, and I want to be a film director in the future. People have freedom to have their own dreams regardless of their age and gender, and it is never too late for them to create a process to realize their dreams. My roommate here in Tennessee, who is two years younger than I am, was the one that reminded me about that clearly. He loves to learn about different cultures, and he can speak three languages. He started learning Japanese because of his interest in Japanese animation. Because he knows how hard it is to learn multiple languages, he supports me in my quest to learn other languages, too, and I help him with his Japanese. I respect his culture, and he respects mine. Thus, I’ve never thought of him as being younger than I am. In addition, half of my classmates already are married. The reasons that they study at the university vary, but nobody feels out of place because of his or her age. It is common in this country for adults to enroll in university. I am surrounded by the proof that it is never too late to begin anything, and all of my fellow students are living their own dreams and realizing their hopes for the future.

It is a waste of time just to follow the words of another person, and I believe that life is a fight for one's own beliefs. The photograph of Tom Holland that I took was bought by a British magazine. I told my friend that it was my dream to work with Tom Holland. He knows an associate of Tom Holland, and he told me that he would try to introduce me to Holland’s filming site. Speaking out loud about your dream may help you to realize wishes for your future, and it also shows your appreciation for others. One’s life can become complete at any time.  And as for me, I might be well on my way to achieving my life goal at last.

Shun on a trip to Nashville.

My time at Obirin taught me that improving the lives of others is the real accomplishment.

By Henry Aberle, Oberlin 2016 Shansi Representative (2016–2018)
ヘンリ アベリ、オベリン大学 2016卒業
シャンシーフェローシッププログラム 2016-2018 

Henry in a Kimono.

 私は定期的にかるた取りを続け、ReBitと呼ばれるLGBTQ教育組織のための、刺激的なボランティアワークに出会い、たくさんの地元の友人を作り、日本語力も向上させました。日本語検定試験のN1 テストを、一年半前に初めて受けた時の結果と比べ、各々のセクションで20ポイント以上の成績を上げ、85%の正解率で合格したほどでした。しかし、自分の目標を達成すればするほど、大学では、より一層、罪の意識を感じました。桜美林大学での2年間、エネルギーを得てクラスを終えられることは珍しかったです。(3時間という途方もなく長い授業を受け持ったのですが・・。)

As a student, the best teachers I had in school were the teachers who always seemed to be listening—the ones who were so present for their students that they knew exactly what to say to elevate the students to their greatest potential. These were the teachers who were so committed to their work that their focus alone was inspiring. For me, that was my choir teacher in high school. Unfortunately, for many of my students at JFOU, a lack of teaching experience and an initial disconnect from my job prevented me from becoming one of those teachers. It’s embarrassing to say, but when I came to Japan, my goal was to help myself, not my students. If you look at my aspirations for the fellowship on the Oberlin Shansi website, you’ll notice that not once do I mention my future students. My goals at the time were becoming fluent in Japanese, playing karuta (a hobby of mine), and living abroad. Looking back on my experience, I did in fact accomplish all of the goals I set for myself.

I played karuta regularly, ended up doing really exciting volunteer work for an LGBTQ education organization called ReBit, made lots of local friends, and improved my Japanese to such an extent that when I took the N1 Japanese Language Proficiency Test in July, I passed with 85% accuracy in each section—adding 20 points or more to each section of the test compared with my first attempt a year and a half prior. But the more personal goals I accomplished, the more guilt I felt at school. In my two years at Obirin, it was rare that I would come out of class feeling energized. (Granted, classes are long—ninety minutes each—and I usually taught two consecutive classes.)

For most of my time at Obirin, I was caught up in the feeling of ineptness. I wanted all of my students to enjoy coming to my class, but didn’t have the courage to get the help I needed to make that happen. I lacked courage and integrity. My fellowship experience was a gift, but pride tainted my time at Obirin. Looking back, though, I don’t regret the experience for a second because it taught me lessons I will keep with me for a lifetime. What I learned through teaching at JFOU and through my recent participation in something called the Landmark Forum (also offered in Tokyo) is the importance of living a life for others and relinquishing the kind of pride that holds us back from acting responsibly.

If all of your actions are taken with the purpose of improving the life of someone else, there is no fear, only excitement—no place for pride, only discovery. I’m grateful to my students for teaching me at least as much as I taught them. I want nothing but the best for my students and everyone reading this today.
Henry at a Karuta Tournament

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