2021 Activity Report

March Activity Report

March 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

This was finally the time for both students and teachers to retake normal activities, but suddenly the director decided to wait a little bit more for the language students in particular. One can notice how the streets of the capital city are crowded once again by hundreds of newcomer students that provide a singular-young atmosphere. According to some publicity that I found, this would be opportunity to receive once again the Cervantino festival after all this time. Some people told me about the previous festival and pointed out that despite of the strict sanitary measures, there were a lot tourists and spectators in most of the events. Therefore, it is for sure that we are going to see thousands of tourist on the streets like we usually do during this celebration.

I personally talked with the coordination of the school of languages and the scholar exchange area, and they explained that it is not possible for the moment to use any of the classrooms for cultural reunions due to the recent increase of omicron cases in some of the entities around the city. However, we could be able to get a space for our cultural activities after the summer vacation. In order to introduce Japanese culture, I was thinking about providing a kanji support class combined with a conversation group. I have noticed that learners are even more interested when I explain the properties and the overall use of kanji in short texts. They are even making more question than on the reading group. There are some application on mobile devices that could contain a vast quantity of good examples and phrases. As for the TUFS students who are now living in the city, I am planning to apply a very short interview about the experience of studying abroad and analyze it together with the Mexican learners. We could find a lot of interesting impressions from the exchange students who are living in a completely different culture during this pandemic period.

February Activity Report

February 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

Students and teachers are now gradually returning to their regular classes, but there is still some necessary limitations for everyone. As for the language courses, most of the learners are still using online meetings as their first option. In some other institutions (elementary schools and high schools), the students are now attending to their complete schedule and subjects.

It is therefore possible to see a lot of people using their scholar uniforms just as it used to be before the pandemic state. This really surprised me when I went outside for some shopping and that brought a very positive sensation, because it means that after all this time we can

finally continue with the normal activities. However, corona and omicron are still causing some trouble despite the fact that the majority of people have received at least two doses of the vaccine. Masks are still being used by most of people but only on public transportation and on public events.

It is now our opportunity to be responsable and avoid the whole situation to get critical again.

As for the new Japanese students, I was able to share the most relevant information about TUFS and its different study programs. During the meeting, the internet connection failed a couple of times but it was possible to retake the session a few moments later. I hope to see more members in our weekly meeting, so the students can make use of their language knowledge as most as possible. I really want to meet the students and try something genuinely communicative once the academic activities get normalized, but we will have to wait just a little bit more.

January Activity Report

January 2022
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

This is finally the semester in which teachers and students will be able to get together after almost two years of absence. The official announcement indicated that almost all scholar activities and offices would be reopened in the middle of the month, but the increase of covid and omicron cases affected this decision at the very last minute. However, many different

schools around the country are now back into their normal state and students and teachers can return to their classrooms. Now it is for sure that all the teachers and administrative staff received at least two doses of the vaccine, therefore it is safer for everyone to assist to class. Last semester, the administrative staff of the university needed to make an appointment for every person who needed to do some paperwork, but now thighs are getting more flexible. In a few weeks, Guanajuato will once again receive thousands of university students who are the soul of the city.

I had a information exchange session with the other GJO partners a few weeks ago. During the ZOOM meeting, the topics of discussion were the general state of the scholar activities and the impact of pandemic measures in our daily activities. As we could notice, there is still some uncertainty about the future situation with the lockdown, but at least in Mexico people are being positive about it. Personally, I am conscious of the various methods and advantages of online teaching, but nothing can replace the real student interaction that we used to have before the pandemic period.

This could be the last month in which I use the reading activities with the students, so I can try something more communicative once I can get a space at the university facilities. I have been using this free didactic material with the students for more than a year now, and it is time to meet the newcomers and share the information about TUFS.

December Activity Report

December 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

Winter has finally arrived and some people took the opportunity to go on vacations for some weeks. As it is well known, here in Mexico there are three long vacation periods and the people could not resists assisting to the most important touristic attractions during this time.

The government pointed out the urge of returning to classes and indicated all the steps to follow for January 2022. Vaccination has finally covered the amount of people necessary to finish with the lockdown after two years.

It is important to point out that in some states of Mexico, student from all sorts of public schools were attending regular classes since two months ago. However, as for the university of Guanajuato the principal decided to wait until mid-January to finally reopen normal activities and practically all of the teachers were vaccinated last semester. Personally, I have received the two necessary doses of the vaccine some weeks ago with no side-effects (fortunately). This could mean that I can finally get to know the office without limitations and that I would be able to have face to face classes after all this time.

The reading group received a few number of students during the last weeks, but I am very sure that I can gather more students at the presencial meeting at the university’s building. I cancelled one of the zoom meetings on December 25 because of Christmas celebrations. The plan for next month would be providing TUFS general information to the newcomers and trying to get the permission of get a special classroom for our especial reunions.

I would like to adapt a conversation group apart form usual activities from last year reading group. Once the students reunited we can talk about including any other convenient activities based on their needs. I have to admit that it brings very positive emotions when realize that this could be the end (so to speak) of the pandemic situation in Mexico.

November Activity Report

November 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

The winter vacation has finally arrived and The university of Guanajuato has finally considered to retake normal activities for next month (January), which is very positive decision considering that Mexico is one of the last countries in reopening scholar activities. One can notice, at least at Guanajuato city that people are still using mask and following the sanity norms as usual, but there is much more social life and less restrictions in bars and restaurants. There is still uncertainty about the rise of a new variant of the virus which could possibly lead to a new lockdown, but most of the people are being optimistic on the situation. Personally, I am currently waiting for the second dose of the vaccine Sputnik which would be the last dose to be protected enough. Some schools started to accept a few quantity of students in the classrooms but with many limitations. However, it is for sure that the quarantine is not getting to the final stage.

For this month everything continued as usual. I have been reading the basic level stories for the students and I have also tried to contact current and previous exchange students but I have no response yet. I wanted to make them respond some questions about the experience of studying in Mexico, so I asked for some help to the office to get more exchange students contacts.

Anyhow, I will still try to use the students information to the students of the university. In order to do so, I used the following question:

1- What are you currently studying?

2-Why did you choose Mexico for studying abroad?

3- Have you found something which surprised you during your time in Mexico?

For the rest of this month I will still offer the reading group to support student’s learning no matter if the quantity of students has been reducing since the vacation period started. I hope to be able to get to know the office and coworkers once the lockdown has come to an end.

October Activity Report

October 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

After waiting all this time, I finally received the vaccine in my home town two weeks ago. The organization of the medical authorities was actually pretty much better than expected for most of the population, and although I thought that it was going to take several hours to get my dose I just had to wait around 15 minutes despite the number of people. Some of my friends and family told me about all of the side effects the vaccine could cause, but fortunately I was feeling with a lot of energy that day. According to the authorities, the next period of vaccination period is starting next month for young people around my age. The rates of infection are finally decreasing because of the amount of people that received the vaccine. More than ever people are willing to leave their homes and get to work as it used to be before the lock down. I was surprise by the efficiency of the nurses and how easy was to get my individual document of validation. At least in this part of the country people are relying of the vaccines and the government recommendations, but there are still a lot of people who decided (for some strange reason) not to receive the dose. We have to recognize that nurses and doctors are working more than ever to stop the virus, and yet it seems to be that the pandemic emergency would last a little longer.

Last month I contacted the new TUFS students from Japan and I would like to include them in a short activity with the students. I was thinking in a very short “why did you choose Mexico” text to discuss with the leaners. Since we cannot have face-to-face reunions, we could use some kind of online way to do it. It is important to take advantage of media and make them interact somehow. This month I shared once again the general information on TUFS and its programs to the students through a zoom presentation. I talked about the exchange possibilities and the new courses related to culture and manga. I also made sure to provide my mail to solve their questions, because some of the students could not attend the reunion on that specific day.

I started reading the 3rd level stories with the students and I make sure to emphasize the importance of meaning depending on the context. I want to provide more examples using simple forms and words from the first levels of Japanese. For next month I would like to try other types of practicing their language knowledge and get them to communicate orally. It is hard sometimes, mostly for first level students to speak. It is very common in some Japanese learning programs to avoid communicative activities, and I can notice that most of the materials that the students use focuses much more on drilling structures. It will be a challenge to try to adapt this in my reading group but I am willing to try.

Young Mexicans using costumes during the vaccination to break the routine

September Activity Report

September 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

On September 15th, people used to celebrate the Independence Day by assisting to the public squares and eating traditional dishes. The climax of the celebration starts around midnight when hundreds of participants yell out loud “viva Mexico” after the president of every city indicates. Before the pandemic emergency, I went to celebrate this day with a couple of friends at the most important and historical city Dolores Hidalgo, which is only one and a half hours away from Guanajuato by taking a bus. The quantity of people at that time was so overwhelming that I lost my friends for more than an hour. However, the Independence Day is nowadays limited to some fireworks and a simple TV transmission. This year, the military parade was the most outstanding event. Finally, the vaccine has reached the young sectors of population at least in the capital of the country. It is just matter of time to see young adults (less than 30 years old) making a line to receive the vaccine in the rest of the states.

The new semester has started since some time ago and apparently there are new exchange program students arriving to Mexico after all. Although practically all of the classes are going to be taken online, there must be a way to make the students interact with our students. I contacted some of the new Japanese students to let them know that I am there to support their experience. I am conscious that one of the most important aspects of going abroad is the face to face interaction, but we can still try to show them our thoughts and interests through technology.

This month we continued with the reading group and we are almost finished with all of the basic level material. Specifically for Tadoku which is the page that I use the most, level three stories are maybe a little bit complicated for the students who have not learned all of the changing forms of the verbs and other aspects of the grammar. I will have to adapt some more material to their level and get to the advanced material little by little.

August Activity Report

August 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

The vacation period is finally over this month and the students of campus are starting a new semester. Some of the administrate personal is finally back to work after a long amount of time. For security reasons, the students will still stay at home, because almost none of the learners have yet received the vaccine. One week ago, one hurricane located in the golf of Mexico has caused an important amount of severe damage not only in Mexico but also in the United States. Floods have been reported all over the country and dozens of sinkholes appeared in some states. It has been a difficult seasons for lots of Mexican families.

I am preparing a new presentation to introduce the school of Tokyo and the activities we do with the Japanese students. I hope that the exchange activities will finally come back to their normal state in Mexico and in the rest of the planet. It would be very interesting to see students enjoying the experience of studying abroad without any restriction. As for the reading group, it appears to be that it is gaining more participants in the last two weeks. Now I can realize that some of the students are true beginners and this means that I should adapt the class for someone who is still struggling with memorizing the confusing hiragana and katakana syllabaries.

We were able to finally edit the last details of the dubbing video and it is at last uploaded. I got helped by one of the students who edited and gave me some advice on how manage the audios. The main purpose of these video is to encourage students to use their language knowledge and get engaged with their own interest. I hope that with this video, students will give their own suggestion about which video they would like to focus on.

This link contains the video for the dubbing group that we uploaded to YouTube: https://youtu.be/PQ2Dcx22mFs

July Activity Report

July 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

The long period vacation is finally over and after practically two months the students are getting back to their online classes.

In Mexico, a great percentage of the population were able to receive the dosis during this summer, and now the government is starting to vaccinate young people (18 to 30 year old people). This means that the schools are finally going to attempt a parcial reopening of classrooms. At least in the capital, (Mexico city) some elementary schools and middle schools are now functioning as normal, but with a reduced number of students. The scholar period August-December starts in one week, therefore I will contact teachers and try to promote the exchange program.

After an online meeting with my TUFS colleagues, we were able to share valuable information about the activities and general practice we apply with our students. I notice that I should focus a little bit more on their communicative skills by encouraging them to discuss about their interests and experiences. At the end the quality from the audios we created the first time for the dubbing group resulted to be not good enough so we are adapting them once again. I am hoping to get finished the video during the next two weeks. As for the reading group, we have been using Tadoku and NHK free readings lately. It is indeed much more complex to adapt the readings for the basic level students, but once you get into it, one can notice that this online newspaper has a wide list of other resources to use with the students.

I am now getting used to the official application to see if I can apply it with the students soon. Last week, I commented the students that Tadoku and its staff are offering a chatting group at the beginning of this month, I hope that my students can adapt to the difference in time between Japan and Mexico to attend the zoom conference.

The scholar period is about to start and I am excited to get in touch with new learners.

Here is more didactic material of my creation for the teachers and students of the Japanese area:

June Activity Report

June 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

Summer is getting more rainy than usual, but it is actually a relief after a large and severe drought. The State of Guanajuato and the surrounding areas are finally green and beautiful as they should be. However, there is still more tourists that come from other countries. I was able to be once more at the most crowded part of Guanajuato which is the central garden, I could not even walk because of the amount of people. Some weeks ago, the entire country reported very few cases of corona and some schools are starting to plan the official returning to class on august. Actually, not all the schools plan to return to class after vacation, because they have to make sure that all the staff gets the vaccine including most part of the young students. According to some official announcements, the students can make it a personal decision and choose between taking online classes or returning to class. This means that we could have an entire year of online activities until 2022.

The reading group is still receiving students during this vacation period that will last two months. Thanks to the material I received from the office, I have been able to offer a wide list of adapted material for basic level students. These last three weeks we were looking at those readings which difficulty is a little bit higher than the rest of material we saw last semester.

I personally love this free material because it contains most of the basic vocabulary presented in a very simple way. After dealing with the video auditor program, I presented a short video on the facebook dubbing group, and I am hoping that the video is in good condition to be uploaded to the YouTube platform because this is my very first attempt to create a video using only digital sources. I will be sharing these videos according to the recommendations of the students and my own personal choice.

Here is more didactic material of my creation related to Kanoukei (可能形):

May Activity Report

May 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

Soon, most of people who are more than 40 years old will receive the vaccine.

The population is little by little returning to their normal activities. Even some elementary level schools of Mexico City ( the capital of the country) are starting to attend to normal clases again in some areas.

This means that the government is trying to find out if students of other levels can come back to classrooms at the end of the next year period. It is important to mention that in our university, most of teachers have been receiving the dosis in the last weeks. Therefore, we might be able to see online classes being transmitted from the regular classroom space.

In my case, I am still expecting to get the vaccine right after the vacation period is over. According to some information given by the university, the administrative staff would return to the offices before anyone else. This would mean that it is possible that I will returning to the University a little sooner than the students.

As for the online reading group, I am planning to continue with the weekly reunion during vacation. Here in Mexico there is practically a two month long vacation period which starts the second week on June. I am hoping to start with the next level of difficulty with the students and try out more complex material. I hope that the students will stick around even during vacation, because it is a large period without studying or applying their knowledge of the language. I remember myself as a student coming back to class after the summer and it was complicated to recall the structures and understand readings as well. For this summer, I think that the students should keep in touch with the language as much as possible. I will have to contact the university in order to promote these summer reunions and focus on the student needs. As for the dubbing group I am still trying to edit a couple of videos to publish on youtube. Video edition was quite more complicated than I expected.

Here is more didactic material that I created:

April Activity Report

April 2021
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Marco Antonio Vázquez Muñiz

Here in Mexico, there is a period of two week vacation at the end of March and the start of April. As many other holidays in Mexico, it has religious origins. Since I can remember, Mexicans use this time to go the beach or swim somewhere close to their hometowns. I used to play outside my house when I was little by throwing water balloons to my friends, but nowadays the country is experimenting some issues with the drought.

The lockdown appears to be less serious than ever, and the government is starting to suggest the return of basic level students to the classrooms.

In the case of the University of Guanajuato, some say that this school year and all its activities will remain online until most of the population gets the vaccine. Honestly, I am very surprised that the virus is not causing trouble for now. Guanajuato city is now full of tourist and night activities. One can see that restaurants are now in their 80% of capacity, which I consider not very convenient. We should all try to stay home and avoid crowded places like at the beginning of the lockdown. I can notice the current situation with India, which is very chaotic due to the amount of people at traditional celebrations. I think we should all realize that is not time for relaxing yet, and that there is still a lot of effort we should go through to contain the virus.

The reading group is now gaining more participants, and it is a pleasure for me to keep using this amazing material. There is a reading designed by a Mexican university on the Tadoku page. I would really like to get involved in the creating of this sort of didactic material. since most of the students I am working with are beginner level students, some of the them usually ask about more ways to memorize katakana and hiragana. I always try to give them some recommendations of the techniques I used when I was studying. I am glad that the students are still interested in learning more vocabulary apart from their regular classes. Last week, we started with a vertical format Japanese reading. This format is still used in a wide list of media such as newspapers, magazines and manga. It is a good thing that this material we are using has all sorts of reading formats.

Here is more didactic material for teacher use: