Onna Village continuing international exchanges with four Asian countries
June 13, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
The Onna Village Board of Education continues to provide chances for children to connect with Asian neighbours through an international exchange programs with four Asian countries and regions such as Taiwan and Malaysia. In February, Onna received approval to conduct exchange programs from the Malaysian Ministry of Education. The village strengthened its connection by sending elementary and junior high school students to attend schools in Taiwan in May. The village’s exchange program organizer Katsuya Honda said, “Asian countries have getting more important roles in the world. I hope children can gain communication skills and be active internationally.”
The exchange programs started in the 2011 fiscal year. The elementary and junior high schools in the village have had ongoing exchanges with seven schools in Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. They have conducted Malaysia exchanges over the internet, using live video. Accepting requests from Malaysia, Onna applied for approval for international exchanges from the country’s Ministry of Education and received it in February. According to the village board of education, it is rare for municipalities in Japan to receive permission for exchanges from the Malaysian government. Onna Village is the first one in Okinawa.
For on-site exchange programs, one student from each school in the village visited Taiwan for five days. They took part in classes at Jianan Elementary School, Guantian Junior High School in Tainan City, and Zong Xing Elementary School in Ciayi County Shi Zuo area, with which Onna has been maintaining exchanges via video conference. The students experienced English and Mathematics classes in Chinese. At the Zong Xing Elementary School in Shi Zuo area which is a tea-producing area, the students learned how to prepare tea.
After coming back to Okinawa, 11-year-old Akari Daikoku from Nakadomari Elementary School demonstrated how to prepare tea the way she was taught at Zong Xing Elementary School, on May 29. She poured tea with the authentic tools used in Taiwan, and served it to classmates. Drinking the tea, one of her classmates commented, “It is oolong tea, but it tastes like green tea.”
Reflecting on the exchanges in Taiwan, Daikoku said, “Language was difficult, but I could communicate with gestures. Everyone was kind, so I had fun.”
Eishun Uechi, a principal of Kisenbaru Elementary and Junior High School and a leader of the on-site exchange trip said, “I learned that the school system in Taiwan was different from ours. It was inspiring for students. We had a great time.”
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)
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