Justus participated in online Japanese classes which Inter-University Exchange Project (Africa) organized for international students, collaborating with Peace and Conflict Studies, Graduate School of Global Studies. Most of the former exchange students from African countries told us that Japanese language is difficult for them to learn because everything, such as grammer and pronunciation, is different from their mother tongues. Besides, under the COVID-19 restrictions, they can hardly learn Japanese by an interaction with Japanese people in a daily life, which we didn't notice until reading his essay. Thus, the online Japanese class became a great opportunity for him to communicate and get close with other international students and Japanese students who helped them as volunteers.
Following is his essay.
Before coming to Japan, learning the Japanese language and culture was one of my major interest. I'm trying, by all means, to achieve this goal by the end of my academic program. However, it's so unfortunate that the pandemic restrictions are severely impacting several social and academic programs which would provide a conducive atmosphere for learning the Japanese culture and language via social interactions. Thus, in order to achieve the above interest, I had to attend Japanese language classes.
In February 2021, I was invited to participates in the online programs organized by the Inter-University Exchange Program, TUFS. One of these programs was the Japanese classes (Beginner level and Intermediate level) which we held from 18th, 19th, and 25th February 2021. Actually, these classes were held as a second step in collaboration with the PCS "Survival Japanese" classes. The main purpose for organizing these classes was to prepare and provide exchange students with basic oral communication knowledge as per the participant's requested topics of interest.
These classes were very diverse with people from different nationalities and cultures with different unique characters. In the classes, we had students from Japan, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Syria, Tunisia, Uganda, Haiti, and Nepal. Interestingly enough, some of the participants were undergraduate, master's, and Ph.D. students. The medium of communication during the classes was both English and Japanese for better understand. Importantly, The Inter-University Exchange Program cooperated with several native Japanese speakers (students major in Africa culture) who worked hand in hand with the facilitators to ensure a smooth platform for studying especially to the naive Japanese-speaking participants like me. They helped through corrections check-up, accurate pronunciation, reading of characters, role-playing, translations, interpretation, and explanation of some topics. Actually, the Japanese students seemed impressed at how international students were trying to master their language and culture.
In the Japanese classes, I got a chance to practice some Japanese and learn how to introduce myself in Japanese, how to ask for directions, how to order meals, how to explain my symptoms to the doctor for the first time, verbs for shopping, and how to book an apartments. Importantly, during the break-out sessions, I had a chance to interact with other students and made friends. Participating in these classes wasn't only helpful for academic purpose but for social reasons too. During the boring days of the pandemic, I had badly needed people to interact and hang out with sometimes in the future. Indeed I got a chance to get connected to some of the participants who are helpful in my pursuit of learning Japanese language and culture etc.