Group encourages cross-cultural relationships
Monday, October 1, 2007
By Ryan Holly
A weekly Japanese study group provides Oklahoma Christian University students with the opportunity to both learn a new language and develop new friendships.
Japanese study group centers on language, but we actually have a
monthly Japanese movie night and also a Japanese dinner night that is
free for all who come,” senior Amy Ives said. “When we meet on
Thursdays, the focus is language but outside this one hour class period
we just hang out and share our different cultures.”
Japanese study group meets on the second floor of the library by the
north side windows every Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. Seniors Hitomi Yabe
and Amy Ives lead the group. Yabe and Ives are native Japanese
speakers. Yabe expresses enthusiasm for the program because of the
improvement of her friends’ Japanese skills.
me being a Japanese student here, I am so glad that people are actually
interested in both Japanese language and culture. Amy and I have been
doing this study group for two years, and it is very encouraging to me
to see how far students have improved and how my friends here can carry
on a Japanese conversation with me,” Yabe said.
Oklahoma Christian is the current home to eight Ibaraki Christian University
long-term exchange students, four degree-seeking Japanese students and
about 15 short term Ibaraki Christian students. Many of these Japanese
students are the teachers in the study group while they also learn more
about the American culture and English language.
try to make the Japanese students be the teachers at the study group
because they can also learn English as they teach Japanese and become
friends with other American students,” Ives said.
in the study group learn basic Japanese language skills that enable
them to spark conversations and initiate friendships with Japanese
first thing we try to teach is ‘thank you very much’ (arigatoo
gozaimasu), and when I teach it to American students, I try to express
its importance by saying ‘arigatoo gozaimasu’ at the end of each
class,” Ives said.
The study group tries to begin with very simple words because learning a second language can be difficult.
also start out by teaching the basics like ‘hello’ (konnichiwa), ‘how
are you doing?’ (genki desu-ka) and ‘good evening’ (konbanwa). We like
to start out teaching words that can help start a conversation,” Yabe
and Japanese students in this study session take time not only to learn
the language, but also to learn more about each other and themselves.
Americans think the Japanese language is really difficult to learn, but
I have found through experience that Americans can learn Japanese and
can continually improve with practice. Each time I see American
students come to class, I notice their improvement,” Ives said. “For
the Japanese students, the study group is a time when they can
understand the beauty of their language and culture and also how
Americans view their culture. It’s just that chance to see things from
Christian continues to grow as an international community because of
the cross-cultural relationship cultivated through the study group’s
atmosphere. It does not merely exist between Japanese and American
students but also exists between Asian students.
fun part of the study group is not only our American and Japanese
students coming, but Chinese and Korean students are also coming to
learn about another Asian culture,” Ives said.
the Japanese study group is a way to meet Japanese students, but it is
not the only way to help Japanese students feel more at home.
talk to them. They came here to learn English, and they are very
willing to learn more English. If you know any Japanese words, just
talk to them when you see them. They will be glad to hear Americans
speaking in Japanese, and they will feel more at home. Just be friendly
because they are also very friendly,” Yabe said.