Last week, Kyorin University Writing Center and Shotoku Gakuen High School carried out its first “World Connected Class” activities. The Writing Center’s instructor Virginia Kita (of the US state of Indiana) and two peer tutors with study abroad experience (Risa Mochizuki and Shu Unagami) formed a panel together with two Chinese exchange students. The Chinese exchange students were Wang Shuxin (of Xian) and Chen Lang (of Guangzhou), and their participation was arranged by Hiroko Miyakubi of the Faculty of Foreign Studies.
Our discussion panel interacted via Skype with four classes of junior high school students (3 classes of jr. high 1st graders, and 2 classes of 2nd graders) led by Shotoku Gakuen guidance counselor and teacher Kazuki Yamana. The discussions with the exchange students lasted approximately 15 minutes and were carried out on Tuesday, October 27 and Thursday, October 29. Parent observers were present in the Shotoku classrooms for parts of the online discussions. The topics of discussion included gestures, manners, and other sources of cultural differences between Japan, China, and the US. There was question and answer time at the end of each discussion. A video message from the Kyorin panelists was also sent to be shared with other students who could not be present.
Although the discussions were largely carried out in Japanese, the junior high school students were able to gain experience interacting with people from different cultures. All agreed that the World Connected Class activity marked an important step forward in the relationship between Shotoku Gakuen High School and Kyorin University.