The Musashino University foreign student summer project 2015
LVC joined the Musashino University Japan Summer Project (MSJP) and were involved in the planning and management stages. For Musashino University this year’s MJSP was the first time it had been held since they had to discontinue because of the Great East Japan Earthquake. As LVC were asked to take part in such a commemorative event we were honoured and excited to join the event.
For this year’s MJSP, 37 overseas students from 4 different countries/regions (South Korea, China, Taiwan and Australia) visited Japan to take part in the project. They studied Japanese language in the mornings and in the afternoons they joined the extracurricular activities. Among the extracurricular events held on 20th, 22nd and 24th July LVC assisted the students by acting as helpers, guides or interpreters and cameraman; even once as a teacher. We asked the students to form three groups and visited a “Tatami Studio”, Kiyosumi Garden and Fukagawa Edo Museum, and had them experience tea ceremony, wearing yukata and Kimekomi handicraft. 17 LVC members had the opportunity to use their foreign languages and their own specialisations in each event.
At the tea ceremony the students eyes seemed to be caught by the green of the moss in the beautiful garden with its “Shikiishi” stepping stones. As, for some of them, this was the first experience of the tea ceremony in their lives, we tried to closely support them. The students carefully listened to the friendly, clear explanation from the tea ceremony teacher and her husband, and it led to them asking many questions. Not only did they drink tea, but also some students actually experienced making powdered green tea. They seemed to fully enjoy the experience, which even we Japanese people often do not experience in our daily lives.
At the “Tatami Studio”, as making tatami is a specialised kind of work, air conditioners cannot be used, even in summer. Despite the heat, the students listened carefully to the explanation, which has been handed down from tatami maker to tatami maker, and there were more questions from the students than we thought. From tatami, the floor material which has been an essential part of Japanese houses from olden days, the students learnt about our culture, climate and living style, which are different from those of their own countries, and on top of that, the benefits of tatami, and it seemed to be a meaningful time for the students.
The wearing yukata session was made possible by the cooperation of Gallery Himawari, which has a shop in a shopping district in Koto-ku, where LVC is based. Under the guidance of the kimono teachers of Gallery Himawari, LVC members were able to help all the boys and girls to quickly and correctly put on their yukata. After they had become “Yukata dandies and Yukata beauties” they had their photographs taken professionally by one of the LVC members. From the beginning some students were in high spirits, whilst some looked shy as this was their first experience. Nevertheless, everyone struck a pose in front of the camera eventually, and “click!”. It was an exciting time.
At Kiyosumi Garden the students strolled around, listening to the LVC members’ explanations about the garden. They were calmed by the beautiful pond, the large carp, and the pretty turtles, and had a relaxing time surrounded by greenery. Although it was a day when the sun beat down on them, they were full of smiles.
On the last day the 3 groups got together and tried Kimekomi handicraft which was held at a classroom in the university. Taught by an LVC member who had experience teaching overseas, the students tried making gourd-shaped Kimekomi handicraft. Although everybody had some difficulty making it, they enjoyed the process of “monozukuri” – “making something” and everybody completed his or her gourd. The piece which they made can be a good souvenir for them, and we were glad that they could experience the pleasure from making something, which might also help build their confidence.
After that, the students visited the Fukagawa Edo Museum. In this museum, in which is reproduced a life-sized part of Edo era Tokyo, whilst the students were listening to the museum staff they were able to touch and have their photographs taken in front of the exhibits. They seemed to enjoy fully being able to enter a time slip to a different world.
For this year’s MJSP, almost all the students could speak Japanese very well. However, when we needed to explain a subtle nuance of expression, we thought the LVC members’ language support proved to be useful.
If the overseas students, through these experiences, learned or felt something and enjoyed themselves, we are pleased.
Dear readers of the HP, would you like to make use of your foreign language skills and experience such an exciting, enjoyable time together with us?