Programs help Japanese students adjust to U.S. culture
12/12/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
By Nancye Willis*JACKSON,
Miss. (UMNS) - School on Saturday? It's every kid's nightmare - except
for a group of Japanese second- and third-graders who are keeping in
touch with their homeland's educational traditions.
while their American counterparts are playing or watching cartoons, they
spend three hours in a special school called a "hoshuko." The school,
held in a conference room at Wesley Biblical Seminary, is licensed by
the Japanese government to teach Japanese-language classes and
supplemental math classes to the children of Japanese workers living in
It's a project to keep the students up to speed on
the Japanese way of education so that the adjustment on re-entering
Japanese schools won't cause them to fall behind, says the Rev. Paul
Tashiro, a United Methodist minister and academic dean of the school.
need to keep up with Japanese skills and math skills," says Sachiko
Osanai, 27, who is among a group of Japanese seminary students providing
instruction. Osanai assigns the students about 10 Japanese letters a
week to learn, with an ultimate goal of being able to write more than
About 150 Japanese families reside in Jackson, many drawn to
work at a $1.4 billion Nissan plant nearby. They are expected to be in
the United States for one to three years.
The relatively small
number of Japanese can mean isolation and loneliness, even among a
close-knit ethnic community. Learning to cope with new food, climate and
customs has complicated their 7,000-mile journey, says Tashiro, a Tokyo
native who is also professor of Old Testament and biblical languages at
"To learn English itself is tough," he says, noting that the additional vernacular makes it harder still.
"When they said, 'What's up?' or 'Hey, y'all,'" says Osanai, "I think, 'What's up? Look at the ceiling.'"
without cars, and women who stay home while their husbands work, can
feel especially isolated. To help combat potential loneliness, Tashiro
is also starting Japanese-language worship services at Christ United
Methodist Church in Jackson.
The worship service - another
introduction to American tradition - is part religious and part social,
and offers an opportunity to share with others so far from home.
Japan, Tashiro points out, "they will never darken the door of the
church." In Mississippi, he says, "They found a place to talk about each
other. That itself is really help for everybody."
Japanese supplemental schools operate around the United States,
according to Kiyoshi Kawahito, director of the Japan-U.S. Program at
Middle Tennessee State University's College of Business in Murfreesboro.
information on Christ United Methodist Church is available at
www.cumcjxn.org; more information about Japanese supplementary schools
is available at www.mtsu.edu?~japan/JSMT.html.
# # #
*Willis is editor for the Public Information Team at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn.
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