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Bringing us together: student exchange

Teacher note

International travel has increased access to places in which to live and learn. The almost daily flights that have been available for about a decade between New Zealand and Kansai International Airport makes it easier for Japanese to visit New Zealand, and Kiwis to visit Japan.

More could make the trip, and perhaps more would if they knew more about how to get around other places in which they may live and learn. Certainly, there are more places that welcome, and help, Kiwi kids to study abroad – and there are Kiwi places where Japanese are encouraged to study and visit.

Student exchanges are a good way to help bring us closer together.

Rongotai College student of Japanese, Conwin Chin and his Sakai homestay family got on well. The toddler adopted him – and was never so happy as when Conwin gave him piggyback rides. The family made him confident to plan to return, and to spend six to twelve months later on during his secondary school period studying in Sakai. He planned to look for a scholarship. He thought he could find out more about funding support - from his home and school base. His dream was to learn more about Japanese culture.

The cultures of interest to Kiwis who visit Kansai are changing.

At Ritsumeikan University Japanese students are expected to learn English. On their first day at university they are required to sit an examination in English. Thereafter they all continue to learn English.

Aiko Mizuno, who was Amber Walters’ junior high school student in Minoh and then attended Nelson College for Girls, would not have had any problem with the English exam when she got accepted for Ritsumeikan for 2007!

Many New Zealanders are learning French, Japanese, Spanish. Quite a few are learning Chinese. Up till now, however, they are not required to learn a foreign language at school or university. That may change.

Young New Zealanders can start to participate in the knowledge economy by planning their own visits to Japan, perhaps on a school exchange trip in their sister city, perhaps by studying abroad at Ritsumeikan or one of Japan’s other universities, perhaps by working in Japan as a private teacher of English, perhaps by getting selected for the JET programme.

Perhaps in adult life today’s Kiwi students will be working with Japanese in any of wide range of opportunities.

March 16, 2007


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