2017 Activity Report

March Activity Report

2 April 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator

In March, the season of spring sunlight finally made an appearance. The weather in Turkmenistan is like a rollercoaster; just as the warm days seem to go on forever, it suddenly becomes really cold, and then it gets warm again. So I am here enjoying the short spring weather, and at the same time wondering what season people are dressing for...

March was a month with lots of events. In particular, this month, we had visitors from Tokyo University, and a Japanese speech competition.

(1) A Visit from Tokyo University Students

At the start of March, a group of students from Tokyo University visited IUHD as part of a study tour. During the visit, many discussions were held between the students, and they even got the chance to go out all together after class. The students went shopping, ate meals together and, since they were all the same age, seemed to have a good time. On the last day of their visit, the students from Tokyo University performed the traditional soran bushi dance and gave a tea ceremony to introduce Japanese culture to the IUHD students, who seemed very interested. It was impressive seeing students watching the performances intently with their cellphones in one hand.

Despite studying Japanese, the chances students here have to actually use Japanese are limited, and so they can’t really feel themselves improving. Sometimes they even feel like Japan is a country so far out of their reach. However, through this opportunity, the students were able to meet with Japanese students, hear some real Japanese, and I think the promise of ‘let’s meet again in Japan’ became a souvenir of sorts for the students. For this, I’d like to say thank you to the students of Tokyo University.

Picture 1: A picture from the farewell party
Picture 2: A picture after dinner

(2) Japanese Competition

In Turkmenistan, up until now, the Japanese speech competition was held for students majoring in Japanese at the Turkmen National Institute of World Languages. However, due to the spread of Japanese language education, the competition from this year onwards will be open to anyone studying at a higher education institution that offers Japanese. IUHD was chosen as the first venue for this year’s competition.

This was the first competition of its kind in Turkmenistan. The competition is made up of many categories including poetry recitation, speech division A (beginner level), speech division B (intermediate level), and four performance categories. From IUHD, three students participated in speech division A, and two students participated in the poetry recital. In preparation for the competition, students aiming for the poetry recital division practiced how to read a Japanese poem, including pronunciation and pausing. Students entering the speech division had to think about how and what to write in regards to the predetermined topic of the competition, ‘If I could go to Japan…’, and also practiced their pronunciation and pausing over and over again. Due to their efforts, our students won first place in speech division A and third place in poetry recitation. While there were some students who didn’t place, I was so happy to see them try their best.

From fall 2018, student exchanges begin between IUHD and TUFS, and so I think winning these awards at a national competition gives students the confidence and motivation they need to excel in their Japanese studies. This achievement is also an achievement for the TUFS GJO, and I’m glad I had the chance to watch over these students as their Japanese teacher. I’m very grateful to the students who participated in the competition, and at the same time I am looking forward to seeing them grow even more as Japanese learners.

Picture 3: The students who participated in the Japanese Competition

February Activity Report

3 March 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator

It is now February, and the new semester has begun. Since there was a two week break, I hadn’t met with my students for a while. This semester will be similar to the last one with three groups of students learning Japanese, and one new group will also begin learning Japanese. Below is my timetable for this month.

Table 1. International University for Humanities and Development Second Semester Timetable (Regular Classes)

Insurance Ⅱ

International, Private LawⅠ

International Public LawⅠ

International, Private LawⅠ

International Public LawⅠ

International Trade Ⅱ Insurance Ⅱ
International Relations & World Politics Ⅱ International Trade Ⅱ International Relations & World Politics Ⅱ

With the students continuing from last semester I was able to create a harmonious atmosphere to conduct class in. There are many types of students, from those who are good at Japanese to those who are not, and I want to work hard to help them all.

There are 24 students who will begin to study Japanese this semester. The students start from learning hiragana, and I start from learning each of their names. The students started by half-grieving that they ‘didn’t know I would study Japanese until yesterday!’ but by the end of the month they were greeting me cheerfully with ‘ohayou gozaimasu’ (‘good morning’) and could write hiragana. While the students only study Japanese for half a year, I hope that it will come in handy for them in the future.

Aside from the beginner class, the Japanese exam which decides who gets to go on exchange to Japan is also held in February. If you are chosen as an exchange student, you get to go to TUFS for one year from October the following semester. A few students who didn’t get the mark they expected to in the exam approached me saying ‘I want to study Japanese more’, and it made me realize how the exchange student selection process is a huge study motivation for many students. Hand in hand with this, I realized I had to work hard to make students avoid thinking that their main reason for studying Japanese is to go on exchange. I want to try my best this semester too.

January Activity Report

2 February 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator

Happy New Year!

At Universities in Turkmenistan, the New Year holiday is shorter than Japan, with December 31st and January 1st being holidays, after which classes resume as normal on January 2nd. Despite the brevity of this break, it seems that most students living in the dormitory went back to their hometowns to spend time with their families.

For the New Year in Turkmenistan, over December 31st and January 1st, most people prepare feasts at their homes, and visit and invite their friends and relatives. When the date changes, fireworks are set off and everyone dances around Christmas trees (which seem to be called ‘New Year Trees’ in Turkmenistan). Because of that I got the impression that New Year’s in Turkmenistan is more of a ‘celebrate with everyone’ occasion as opposed to a ‘stay at home’ one. However, I felt that the importance placed on feasting and family is similar to New Year celebrations in Japan.

In January, the first semester finished, and final examinations were held. There was a range of results, but a few students managed to get 100/100. The exam covered included hiragana and katakana writing tasks, particles and vocabulary, and basic translation and word order problems. As expected, the students I noticed putting in effort in class got good results. I felt just as happy as the students looked when they saw that their efforts paid off.

Looking back on this semester, it was an interesting four months in which I was constantly supported by the students. When I stumbled in class or was busy with events, the students always lent a helping hand. I am very thankful for being in an environment like this, and I hope to improve myself and work hard next semester.

December Activity Report

4 January 2018
Global Japan Office Coordinator

Since the start of December, it has become a lot colder here in Turkmenistan. New Year’s decorations have started appearing, and Christmas trees are everywhere. From what I’ve heard, Christmas trees here have a role similar to Japanese kadomatsu, which, to me, is quite a cultural curiosity.

(1) Language Festival

A Language Festival was held at the start of December. Here at IUHD, aside from English, there are also Chinese, Italian, and Japanese language classes. At the festival, there were exhibitions and performances held by each of these language departments.

Here in the Japanese department we performed a short play made by the students based on their image of Japan. We only had a week to prepare, but the students worked very hard. While our play came in third place, to me it deserved to be first! For the exhibition, at the request of the students, we set up a Japanese calligraphy booth and wrote students’ names in the Japanese calligraphy style. At first, I did all of the writing, but switched places with a student halfway through. The students are still learning katakana, but it seemed to be good practice for them. While a few mistakes were made, overall they wrote very well.

Picture 1. Students writing their names.
Picture 2. A few of the students who worked very hard on this event.

(2) Class

The Japanese classes are going at a slower pace than I originally planned. This semester, we finished covering hiragana and katakana, and made it through half of the textbook ‘marugoto nyumon A1’. Marugoto has two types of textbooks, an ‘activity book’ and a ‘comprehension book’, but since the Japanese language course here at IUHD is only for one year, I decided to use the ‘activity book’ and focus more on speaking. However, I felt that this was not enough on its own, so I have been making grammar sheets based on the ‘comprehension book’ and using these as summaries for each section we cover.

Picture 3. Grammar Sheets

The students have come a long way from where they began, with zero knowledge of the Japanese language, despite only having class twice a week. I am deeply impressed with the effort put in by my students, and also feel that they push me to teach efficiently. I am currently preparing an end of semester test for January. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this semester.

Picture 4. A student giving a presentation on Ichiyou Higuchi

Also, in class we did a unit on money, and so I got the students to do research on the different people on the Japanese notes, and had them present their findings. I chose to do this as I think it’s important to learn not only about Japanese language, but also about Japanese history and society. In the presentation on Yukichi Fukuzawa, the student presenting went as far as introducing Keio University, and another student asked ‘can you get a Master’s degree at Keio University?’ It seems that many of the students wish to get their Master’s degrees in Japan. I hope that this activity encouraged the students to study hard and set their sights on Japanese universities.

Finally, I will talk about the open classes. IUHD has been holding open classes since the last academic year, but due to the Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games held in September, supplementary classes had to be held in October, and following this, mid-term examinations and multiple ceremonies were held in November, so the open classes weren’t able to be held. On top of this, I am the only Japanese teacher here, and it is difficult to design a classroom that meets all of the students’ levels, so starting the open classes seemed almost impossible. However, you never really know until you try, and so I decided to start an open class as a trial this December. Next I suppose I have to decide the level of the class, and spread the word. Also, since classes finish in January, I want to use the next semester as a turning point, and think carefully about how these open classes can succeed.

November Activity Report

2 December 2017
Global Japan Office Coordinator

The big event of November was the signing ceremony concerning exchange programs, along with the official opening ceremony for the Global Japan Office (GJO) in Turkmenistan, which was held on November 20th, and which was attended by TUFS president Tateishi, vice president Ito, and lecturer Shimada. I would like to describe the preparation that went into the signing and opening ceremonies, and what the day of the ceremonies was like.


1. Poster making

First, we made Japan-themed posters. We were originally planning on making posters themed around typical images of Japan, but after a suggestion was made by the students to showcase Japan as we ourselves saw it, we decided to do just that. We created posters based on how each student saw Japan, with images such as Samurai, Ninja, Buddhist shrines, Disneyland, robots, Mount Fuji, and such.

2. If I go to Japan, I want to…

We created a large poster based on the theme of “What I want to do when I go to Japan.”

The students came up with ideas such as:
• Views of the sun rising in the Land of the Rising Sun
• Introducing Turkmen culture and mentality
• Connecting with smart people to learn how to develop superior technology
• Buying cars and starting one’s own transport business in one’s home country
• Buying a robot friend

I was secretly surprised to find that they had such longings. It was a fine opportunity to get to know the students. I hope that they can all realize their dreams in Japan.

3. Exhibit preparation and Classroom decoration

We prepared the exhibit in the hallway and decorated the GJO using our posters. The students themselves took the leading role, from the preparatory stages to the exhibit commentary on the day of the ceremony. I cannot thank those students enough for the hard work they put in in spite of their pressing schedules.

【On the Day】

1.The signing ceremony

At the signing ceremony, the presidents of both universities exchanged greetings, and a presentation given by vice president Ito. At the moment of the signing, the entire arena was filled with celebratory applause, and President Tateishi presented a painting to the president of IUHD. Vice President Ito gave a presentation about onomatopoeia, to which the students responded favorably.

2.Opening Ceremony of the GJO

The GJO of Turkmenistan opened in September 2016, but the official opening ceremony was held to coincide with the visit of president Tateisihi. At the opening ceremony, there was a Japanese lesson, a Q&A section, a quiz from vice president Ito, words of gratitude from the students, and a commemorative photo was taken in front of the GJO.

The Japanese class chose the theme of “words”, and based on the self-introductions learned by the students so far, a thirty minute class was held for twenty students. We were not completely sure of ourselves while the course was being conducted in front of the president and vice president of IUHD, the TUFS party, the Embassy of Japan in Turkmenistan, and other people from Japanese language institutions, but it seems I was the one who felt the most nervous. I was touched to see the students applying their knowledge and confidently speaking Japanese. After the class, there was a Q&A session, a quiz from vice president Ito, and a speech of gratitude from the students which concluded the day.

I feel that the signing and the opening ceremony was a wonderful experience for the students as well. Several students have been motivated to make a serious effort in studying Japanese. Since there are growing expectations for exchange programs, I would like students to challenge themselves to study in Japan.

October Activity Report

2 November 2017
Global Japan Office Coordinator

The classes have started officially from October. This is my schedule.

Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat.

International Trade International Trade


International Relations and World Politics Insurance Insurance
International Relations and World Politics

There are 2 classes a week for each group as mentioned above. In this month, we studied Hiragana, basic greetings, self-introduction and how to talk about own family. Concerning Hiragana, they said, “It is too difficult.” “What is this character!” at the beginning. However, students seemed to master Hiragana when we reached Wa-line. They noticed that the similarities between one and another, also, they found that some Hiraganas look like pictures like a smiling face and a horse. Also, it made me happy when a student suggested the game using Hiragana. I would like to conduct lessons in which students own findings are encouraged and appreciated. In addition to that, it is surprising that there are students who love to write Hiragana. Once they have realized that they can write and read Hiragana, this can boost their confidence in studying Japanese.

In Turkmenistan, it is really important to think about “What is the meaning of Japanese Education” including “Why do they need to study Japanese characters”.

I decided to teach Hiragana after so much hesitation, because we will have exchange program between TUFS and IUHD in the future. This decision is not a mistake in the sense that students gained confidence from learning it.

However, the motivation levels to study Japanese very among the students. Due to the university system, almost all students cannot choose courses by themselves. Therefore, there are both students who want to study Japanese and who do not want to study Japanese in the same class. Students sometimes tell me that they do not want to study Japanese anymore straight to my face. It is really nice to hear their honest voices. I work hard to make them motivated every day. It is going to be the biggest goal in this year.

September Activity Report

2 October 2017
Global Japan Office Coordinator

My name is Saki Nakamura, I am in charge of Global Japan office in Turkmenistan from September 2017. I would like to introduce Japanese education at International University for the Humanities and Development and other activities.

After I came to Turkmenistan, I was excited to have Japanese classes, however, September has finished without any classes because of 5th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games which is connected to the history of Turkmenistan. In Turkmenistan, students usually join events as “volunteers”. However, in my view, it is not volunteering since students have to work in shifts. Classes are often cancelled because of such events, even if I go to the classroom, nobody is there sometimes. I was shocked and surprised to see them prioritize events more than studies. Which made me realized that I should conduct classes considering the cultural and social affairs of this country.

Regarding the 5th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games, there were athletes from Japan who participated in Futsal, Wrestling etc. Initially I wanted this event to get over soon as I could not conduct any classes and there was traffic congestion in the city due to it. But it was a lot of fun to see these matches live and I enjoyed it.

Looking back on September, I couldn’t conduct the class, but it was a good time to understand the system, preparing the syllabus and to grasp knowledge of Japanese educational affairs of IUHD. Also it seems that the conditions are changing from the previous academic years, it is difficult to understand such things. The students study Japanese for only one year therefore I think that it is necessary to consider the position of “Japanese Language Education” in this university. Many students and teachers tell me that they want to study Japanese, but, it is easy for them to give up studying because of the difficulties in the language. I will do my best to be a good partner or supporter to those who want to study Japanese here.

June Activity Report

1 July 2017
Global Japan Office Coordinator

We had final exams in this month. It was the last exam for me here, so, I decided to hold a Japanese speech contest with all the majors studying Japanese instead of a paper test.

We had a sushi party after the exam at Global Japan Office. Two students helped me prepare for this party even though they must have been busy for their exams. It took us 5 hours to cook sushi rolls and potato salad for 25 people.

It may sound difficult but I enjoyed cooking with my students. Thanks to them, the exam and sushi party both were successfully done.

Other instructors came to see the speech contest and joined our sushi party. Several days later, one of the instructors teaching journalism gave me a video clip which shows highlights of the. It was very touching.

I am very glad to have had this wonderful opportunity to meet them all.

May Activity Report

1 June 2017
Global Japan Office Coordinator

Final exams will start next week, so, this week is the last week of lessons for the academic year. Time has passed very fast since I arrived here last September.

I have mentioned several times about two open Japanese courses in the afternoon as a part of GJO activity which are held in addition to my official courses. It was very enjoyable to teach the students in those courses because only those students wanting to learn Japanese attended there. I have four official groups learning Japanese, and 73 students in total taking my Japanese course as their general elective course. However, 24 students are still actually learning Japanese now. The detailed reasons fpr for this circumstance are mentioned in my report for March.

This semester, I have given an opportunity for two students to teach Japanese to other students under my supervision during the afternoon lessons. These two students studied Japanese every day after the additional afternoon lessons last semester. Also, they managed to complete so much homework. We were not able to reach our original goal, which was to finish both vol. 1 and 2 of “Elementary Japanese” but they worked very hard. They assisted me not only with Japanese education but also in helping me understand various culture related aspects relating to Turkmenistan. I appreciate their effort.

Balkan, one of these two exceptional students, is a second year majoring in International management. He teaches writing twice a week. There are many students who gave up learning Japanese because it seems to be difficult to memorize Japanese letters. He showed students how interesting it could be to learn them. He made it attractive by providing games and quizzes to learn hiragana, katakana and kanji. Also, his fluency in Japanese motivated other students.

Aknur, the other of my two best students, is a second year majoring in International Relations and World Politics. She teaches grammar twice a week. She is a very quiet and calm person, which is totally opposite from the other assistant teacher, Balkan. However, her instructions are simple and very accurate. Her explanations often impressed me because they were from a perspective of a Russian speaking Turkmen learner. That perspective is something I cannot have. I am proud of myself for deciding to have them as assistant teachers. With their help, overcoming the limitations of learning a foreign language taught in another foreign language was achieved.

Both of them have a great fluency of English and are quick learners. They continued studying for themselves while being teachers at the same time. If the exchange program between IUHD and TUFS starts next academic year, I would like them to try it.

April Activity Report

April 2017
Global Japan Office Coordinator

There were three speech competitions this month; (1) a speech contest among secondary schools, (2) an annual speech competition among students of National Institute of World Languages named after Dowletmammet Azady, and (3) a Language Festival at the same institute mentioned above. One student from our university attended the Language Festival. Because it was held during our mid-term exam week, not so many students wanted to join it.

It was the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Turkmenistan on April 22nd. Delegations of JICA and the Japan Foundation visited IUHD. I had a chance to give a presentation at the conference when we welcomed a group of Japanese visitors sponsored by the Japan Foundation. I gave a speech as a GJO Turkmen coordinator.

We had so many events going on in the end of April that we barely had any lesson in the last week of this month. Most of the students and instructors were absent in order to attend the Indoor Asian Olympics to as part of the audience. Some of students and staffs were volunteered as interpreters for international visitors coming to see an Ahal Teke horse show. Moreover, we had the first open campus of IUHD on