Tag Archives: hands-on curriculum

Handmade chopsticks and making new friends

Celine and friends chatting with students in Isehara
Celine and friends chatting with students in Isehara

I woke up around 6am today after having a good night at my 3rd host family’s house. I slept in my host sister’s room on the 2nd floor. For breakfast I had a salad and toast with cheese, and as a kind of dessert I ate a sour plum. We had a lot of fun trying to catch their squirrel that they released from its cage earlier that morning. In the end, we caught him and gave him some sunflower seeds once he had returned to his cage.

My host mom first took my host sister, Haruna, to her school and then drove me to the Sanno University where our first activities of the day would start. I was the first one to arrive (around 8:30am) and waited in a classroom on the 2nd floor. When the other World Campus members arrived as well, we had a short briefing about today’s schedule and an introduction of the LOC’s of Isehara. We joined the University’s English class around 9:30am and introduced ourselves. The students tried their best to introduce themselves in English as well as share some of their hobbies. I talked to 4 students, named Yuuki, Tomoya, Kouya and Teruyoshi. They were either 18 or 19 years old and all 4 of them liked sports a lot.

After talking to the students for a little over an hour, we went to the library where we then talked to more students. Some of my Belgian friends and I talked to a student named Ryo. We tried our best Japanese to interact with him and become friends! Afterwards we went to a special section of the library that exhibited old photographs made by the Japanese photographer Uyeno. We viewed one of his most famous photographs of a man named Sakamoto. After looking around and taking a look in some books with more photographs, we went to the cafeteria to have lunch. I ate udon with vegetable tempura, which I both like a lot. It was really good!

Before leaving we took a group picture together outside and then moved on to the next location which was at a carpenter’s place (Kawado). We learned how to make wooden chopsticks there, within 2 hours! The wood we used is also used to make Japanese houses, which I find very interesting. We were taught that we should use wood well and never waste any of it. After shaping the chopsticks with sandpaper, we wrote or drew something on them with paint. It was a fun experience even though it was extremely hot. While we were sweating like crazy, we at least ended up with one-of-a-kind chopsticks!

Next we traveled to the city hall of Isehara. After changing into fresh and more decent clothes, we met with the major. He was very friendly and was willing to answer all questions that we might have. After having a nice conversation about what it’s like to be the major of a beautiful city like Isehara, we thanked him and took a group picture together.

My host mom picked me up around 5:30pm and took me home to get ready for bowling! My host brother, Haruto, invited 2 of his friends from school to join us. It was a lot of fun! We laughed a lot and they really liked practicing their English when talking to me. Afterwards we went out to eat pasta and pizza at an Italian restaurant. We continued our conversation about differences between our countries there and were slowly ready to go back home.

It was a really nice day of meeting new people and experiencing new things. I hope there are many more days like these to come!

Celine Dewit (Belgium)

University student interaction at Tokai University in summer 2017

Today we went to the Tokai University. It is a huge place with many different things to offer, such as a swimming pool or an international café. After our arrival, we got three options – visit a mathematics lab in the university, go on a tour with students, or explore the place ourselves for about an hour. I walked around with a map and let my curiosity lead me. In Japan, there are many vending machines everywhere, and this university wasn’t an exception – you can easily get yourself something to drink or eat.

After exploring, we ate lunch at the school cafeteria and talked to the students. Some of them spoke English and some didn’t, but that wasn’t a problem since we found our way to joke and laugh together anyway. People there were very nice and excited. After finishing my lunch, I had a little bit of time left, so I looked around at the shops and what they had to offer. Not only you could buy new books for your subject, but also t-shirts saying “TOKAI UNIVERSITY <3 ". When everyone finished their lunch, we moved upstairs for some activities. We were welcomed by a big room with tables covered in paper. It got me interested - what are we going to do now? First, we learned about the 7th of July and it’s celebration in Japan. We could write our own wish to get the feeling of this special day called Tanabata. I still wondered why the tables were covered. Apparently, after writing our wish on a piece of paper, we were about to make our own fan! We got blank fans, pencils, and other things to decorate each in our own way. I must say, many people had creative ideas and executed them well, the fans were beautiful to look at. Everyone seemed very focused and happy. In my opinion, it was something that could bring us all a little bit more together, everyone started complimenting each other’s skills and there was no one who thought something was ugly. Some people got time to decorate even two fans!

After finishing the previous activity, we got divided into seven groups where each group tried a different Japanese game, and we rotated around so everyone could try everything. My group first played a Japanese card game called karuta. It got very competitive very fast. It was about getting as many cards as possible by touching the right card with the correct syllable on it. After playing a short turn of it, we moved to the next point – Japanese calligraphy. It seemed easy but to get a pretty outcome, you need to practice a lot. We all tried writing our own word – mine was yume, which means dream in Japanese. After that we could try cutting shapes with a pin. You need to be precise and steady. I gave up after a while of failing. These three activities were in the first room.

In the second room, we could use chopsticks as a gun, or play with spinning tops (which is a mascot for this city as well). I don’t know how these kids are able to play with that, it’s so hard to spin it and control where it goes. We could also catch our own yoyo balloon from water and try Japanese sweets. It was a very fun day, I am especially glad for being able to interact with local students. Some of the conversations were very funny and interesting.

Adriana Misztowt (Norway)

Elementary School Visit and Murou-ji Temple in Uda

In the morning, most of us went to Murou elementary school to interact with the children there. This is the first time for me to visit an elementary school in Japan, and I was really amazed by the friendly and polite reaction the young kids had when we were doing our presentation in the gymnasium.

Then, we were assigned to participate in different classes. Talking to the fifth graders was really fun; everyone was so active! Especially, there was this one boy in my class who was apparently receiving a special education, and other kids kept helping and encouraging him in such a natural way that impressed me a lot: obviously, the help from his classmates and their friendship had contributed a lot to him. He was not afraid of foreigners at all and could even understand a little bit of English!

After a very nice school lunch and a crazy outdoor playing time with the kids, we departed for the Murou-ji Temple. The history of the temple was highly related to Chinese Buddhism, so it was actually really interesting for me to listen to the tour guide’s explanation. And climbing up the stairs became a nice exercise as well. The view aside the stairs was incredible.

At the end of the day, we made sushi with our host family at home for dinner! Highlight of the day——great Japanese food as always!

Yunzhi Liu (China)