Sunday, April 21, 2013

Japan : Day 1 and 2 of the 10-Day Summer Immersion Program

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Since 2009, the Department of Education Bureau of Secondary Education, in partnership with The Japan Foundation Manila and other foreign agencies, has been giving capability-building type of training for teachers who were assigned to foreign languages.

The undersigned has been blessed with the privilege and the opportunity to be part of this pioneering special program on foreign languages (Japanese) since its inception in April 2009, when it was first offered under the name “Course on Japan for High School Classroom Instruction”.

In the Summer of 2010, the program evolved into Course on Japan for High School Classroom Instruction (Entrée 1). Around twenty-seven (27) teachers from all over Metro Manila participated in the program. The following year, in the Summer of 2011, twenty-four (24) teachers from the Entrée 1 program continued on with Entrée 2.

For the Summer of 2012, twenty-two (22) teachers from the Entrée 2 program proceeded with the Entrée 3 course. Only two (2) teachers were not able to join the Entrée 3 training because the two participants were in the advanced stages of their pregnancies.

Entrée 3 is otherwise known as the Summer immersion training program in Japan for high school teachers of Nihongo who have successfully completed all the requirements of Entrée 1 and Entrée 2. The program is divided into three: the pre-immersion (10 days), immersion (10 days), and post-immersion (2 days).

We, the Entrée 3 participants were oriented with regard to Japanese culture and manners during the 10-day pre-immersion program here at the Japan Foundation Manila office in Makati City. In addition, we were taught additional practical lessons which might be used while we were in Japan. These lessons included expressions and sample dialogues on how to ask for assistance in case you are lost (which proved to be very useful for our group!), how to react appropriately and politely to certain situations, among others.

The immersion program was originally scheduled for May 2011. However, in view of the March 11, 2011 earthquake in the Tohoku region of Japan, the immersion was postponed to a later date. It was finally set for May 10-19, 2012, after the participants have completed a 10-day pre-immersion training in Manila, and to be followed with a 2-day post-immersion program.

Here are the summarized daily accounts of the immersion program:

DAY ONE: Leaving Manila for Kansai Kokusai Center in Osaka, Japan

Our flight going to Kansai Airport in Osaka was a little bit delayed because the pilots also experienced setbacks from their flight going to NAIA Terminal 2. But we waited patiently and cheerfully. Besides, who could notice perhap s an hour’s delay, if you were in good company? We took the opportunity to shoot some pictures as a remembrance of our flight, and used the down time to discuss within our small groups our plans once we are in Japan. Some even used the free internet service found in the lounge of NAIA Terminal 2.

When we finally boarded PR 408, it was almost past 4PM. It was a four-hour flight, so we reached the Kansai Kokusai Center (KKC) at around 9 or 9:30PM. It was dark and very cold outside, but everyone was happy. Since we had a late lunch/early dinner at the airplane, nobody was hungry. A KKC staff gave a brief orientation on how to use our personalized ID cards in entering the room and in passing through check points / gates within the center, then we went off to our respective rooms and called it a night.

Unfortunately, our group was split and we were not assigned to the same floor. The male participants were all assigned at the 4th floor, while some of us were at the 11th and 17th floors. Our Senseis, Ms. Chisato Ofune and Ms. Florinda Palma Gil, were assigned at the 17th floor together with Director Lolita Andrada.

The Kansai Kokusai Center in Osaka provided all of us with five-star accommodations. 

Each of us had a spacious room on our own, and each room is equipped with a single bed, a huge desk, a refrigerator, a book case, a spacious closet, TV, radio and cassette player, hot and cold shower with a bath tub, a dedicated telephone line, and LAN internet facilities. It was truly a very conducive place for studying Japanese language and culture.

Moreover, the center provided facilities such as a laundry room where we washed, dried and ironed our clothes. It also has a kitchen on every floor, gym, self-study room, lounges, classrooms, a huge main hall, and a reception area. The center’s cafeteria prepared very delicious meals, and we always looked forward to eating there every time.

DAY TWO: Preparing for our Home Visit and Kyoto Field Work

For our second day in Japan, we spent the morning with a short opening program.

Fukazawa You Sensei, the Managing Director of the Kansai Center, warmly welcomed us, followed by a message given by Dr. Andrada. Thereafter, we were given a more thorough tour of the Institute’s facilities, including the karaoke room, laundry rooms, kitchens, lounges, library, self-study room, etc.

After a short break, we proceeded with a brief review session on what to do during our home visit and our Kyoto field work. We reviewed the things we needed to say, and anticipated some situations and simulated how we can react politely but still appropriately so as to avoid offending anyone.

After lunch, we had some time to relax. We used it to unpack our things, prepare for the next few days of activities, and contacted our loved ones through the internet. 

At around 3PM, we were given a tour of Rinku Town. It is about seven minutes away by bus from the center. It proved to be very important and useful for us to join the tour because the nearest train station from Kansai Center was at Rinku Town Mall. From our home visit and Kyoto field work, we would be going back to the center by ourselves and get off at Rinku station. From there, we need to take the Japan Foundation Kansai Center service bus which shuttles between the center and Rinku Town Mall from 7:30AM to 9:20PM. Our Senseis taught us how to buy tickets from the vending machine, and taught us how to locate the bus stop of the service vehicle. It was a bit challenging to buy tickets to the train, because we were not used to having so many train lines. 

In the Philippines, a train goes through only one straight path, but in Japan, sometimes an eight-car train would split into two, with the first four cars going to a different route, and the last four cars heading to another prefecture. We had to be mindful of these things, and details like the exact time of arrival of the trains were some of the things we had to pay attention to.

To be continued soon....

* Contributed by Isabelle Sanchez

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  1. Thanks, Gov and Wilma-san! :-)

  2. The article was interesting. It fills up my curiosity, like having to intrigue what Japan looks like. It's as if I was there while I was reading and I was seeing it personally. The people are discipline and their means of transportation is interesting as well, the train. If I would be given a chance whether to go or not to go to Japan, I would definitely, without a doubt, accept the offer because this article encouraged me to go.

  3. Nice, Great website Thanks For Sharing

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