JIU Extension

Jonah and Seiji visit our Discussion class in July, 2011

Jonah and Seiji visited our “Discussions” class last Wednesday (July 13, 2011). Here are some of the comments by the participants:
Ms Watanabe: Jonah is an exchange student from the University of Hawaii. He is very friendly and talked to us about what he likes eating in Hawaii. He said his family often eats fish. His house is close to the sea, which is a great advantage to his family as they can catch fresh fish. His father and he often go fishing for dinner. When they are very lucky they can even catch a lobster! There are many McDonalds around his house, but he isn’t interested in going there. He said he prefers fish to steak. Every Sunday his family enjoys barbecuing. They barbecue fish, vegetables and steak. The fish is from the sea, the vegetables from their garden, so meat is the only ingredient they get from a supermarket. I guess all family members work together preparing the Sunday meal. Some go fishing, some to the garden and others go to the market to buy the meat. Others prepare the fire. After all the preparation, I’m sure they enjoy the BBQ and have a good time. This BBQ dinner reminds me of the movement of slow food. People who recommend slow food tell us that we should take time to eat and enjoy the food, which includes the preparation of the meal. They also say we should try to use ingredients which can be found around us. Ingredients familiar to people tend to be good for the body. Without thinking of this, I think we are doing what this group recommends. Having a conversation with Jonah on food, I learned about the influence of the Japanese on Hawaiian people. His family eats cooked Californian rice like the Japanese, they eat raw fish like the Japanese and they eat “manju” which is something many foreigners don’t like (sweet azuki beans).

Mr. Iketani: Mr. Seiji Takahashi was born in California to Japanese parents. He studied two years in the United Kingdom. When talking about food, he mentioned he likes pudding made of blood sausage. Mr. Jonah Molina was born in Hawaii and has been studying Japanese here for a year. But he studied in Tokyo before coming to JIU. He mentioned he misses Hawaiian food including the traditional BBQ that his family prepares on the weekends.  I was also interested in the special Hawaiian dressing made of passion fruit and olive oil.

Ms Tsuruoka: Jonah is from Maui Island and his house is located on the coastal area. He and his family members used to catch fish in the sea and enjoy BBQs on Sundays. The staple foods of Hawaii include rice, noodles and taro. They eat raw fish like the Japanese. Especially, raw tuna seems to be their favorite. I was so surprised to hear that Hawaiian people eat raw jellyfish!
Seiji, from California, was born and raised in California. His parents are Japanese with a very international background. Seiji went to a high school in England and his sister is a student at JIU. She is going to Norway in August for a year.

Mr. Imura: Jonah talked to us about traditional Hawaiian dishes: Kalua pua’s pork, Laulau, Poi and Haupia. KALAU pua’s pork, or roasted pork, is prepared in the Hawaiian imu or underground steam oven. LAULAU uses taro leaves, salted butterfish, and either pork, beef or chicken and is usually steamed on the stove. Laulau is a typical plate lunch dish and is usually served with a side of rice and macaroni salad.  POI, the traditional Hawaiian staple, is a starch dish made by pounded boiled taro roots and mixing with water until it reaches a smooth consistency. Some Hawaiians eat their poi with salt, some with sugar, even soy sauce. Some like it thicker and thinner. Others like it several days old for an extra tang; and malahini, or newcomers, might find it more to their liking at first if they it with a bite of kalua pork or lomilomi salmon. HAUPIA is a traditional
coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert often found at luaus and other local gatherings in Hawaii. Since World War II, it has become popular as a topping for white cake, especially at weddings. Although technically considered a pudding, the consistency of haupia closely approximates gelatin dessert and is usually served in blocks like gelatin.

End-of-year Party: December 2010

June 23, 2010: I'd like to share another essay that we read together in my "Discussions" class today.

Start with "I"

Do you start with "I" when you are required to or want to express your own opinions or ideas? It has been quite a long time since the word 'internationalization' was introduced to Japan. Nobody can deny the fact that now the world has been globalized in the field of economy, politics, arts and sport is no exception. For example, a bankruptcy of an American firm can influence all countries in the world. A natural disaster in one country exerts a bad influence on the world economy.

However I wonder whether our mind-set has been globalized. We are often asked questions by foreigners about Japanese things, manners and customs. Our dear professor likes this kind of questions, since she's been known as a person of great curiosity. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been a participant of this discussions course for more than ten years. What I was almost impressed with is that when I said, "We Japanese tend to think~" then our teacher broke in with the questions "I understand but what do you think?"

We are exposed to a lot of information through mass-media: newspapers, television, radio, books and magazines. The problem is how we make the best use of that information. It is likely that we read some article, understand it and then have more further consideration: "What's the background of this problem?" "How can we prevent such attitudes?" Some articles may suggest some points for consideration, but it's up to us to give it a thought.

An incident happens somewhere, then a newscaster reports it. The most important thing is how the caster gives it to the viewers with his/her own words and standpoint. If a caster or a commentator makes stale remarks, he or she is no longer worthy of the job--nothing but an announcer. 

The great thing about this discussions course is that we try not only to keep or improve our English abilities but also to have our own ideas. In this course, a casual daily event suddenly becomes a topic and we are asked "What do you think?" In a sense, this course is very tough. But thanks to this course I have come to read newspapers from back to front without skipping sports columns especially the articles related to soccer.

After retirement, I have come to have less tension, however, the English conversation starting with "I" is a kind of spice and nutrition for my brain.

June 16, 2010: I would like to share an essay written by Mr. Iketani. We had been reading various texts from "This I Believe" and today he brought his own text. 

See the World
T. Iketani

Looking back at my life and things I have gone through, I say by far, it wasn’t smooth and it wasn’t boring. My whole life episodes were however not my own making. They occurred without my consideration or agreement. I am perhaps an optimist.

Upon graduation from high school in Japan in 1952, I was offered the chance to go to the States through YMCA where I was an active member. America was a symbol of success for all young people in Japan at the time. It was a natural decision for a 19-year-old boy to make and to go to the country where he has never been before, only with his friends’ admiration and blown imagination in himself. The parents’ disagreement was right, and we had to face the reality of life. It was not our picture of the American dream.

Leaving the family for whom I was working as a houseboy for one year, I decided to be independent by earning my own living and to attend college. Luckily I could graduate although it took me over five years. I recall those years as the most difficult period of my life, struggling to see how my ends would meet, even counting pennies to see what I could eat. But surprisingly, the last year of college, I married a Southern Anglo Saxon girl.

At high school in Japan, I studied English rather hard even going to special schools. But going to the States, I found people spoke a completely different language; at least that was my first impression. Pronunciation, accents, idioms, slangs, and dialects all made me restudy English from the beginning. Through experience there is no short cut except “just work at it.” I believe “continuity is the father of success.”

Coming back to Japan, I managed to join a conglomerate, a multinational through their Tokyo office. They had operations in over one hundred countries, and I gave them my life service until retirement. Once I calculated that I was spending at least 12 to 15 weeks out of a year on an airplane and/or hotels overseas visiting over 40 countries.

As a result, I met many associates and made lots of friends. I still keep in contact with them even though we are now retired. They come to see me combining the visit with their sightseeing tours. To me, these friends are my treasure. We enjoying meeting and talking about the  “good and bad old days” we had together. Our means of communication is English. When I speak to buyers (my job) in Lilongwe, Malawi, Port Louis, Mauritius, Hikinoro OY, Finland, English is the language. Regardless of nationalities, English knowledge is a prerequisite, and our company used to require that skill in addition to whatever other skills were necessary.

I think nowadays English fluency is no longer a merit for a better job or income. It became inevitable for life. You cannot go out of Japan without having basic knowledge of English and must realize that English is the lingua franca. People all over the world use English for communicating. I cannot imagine how my associates and I could have done business without understanding English.

Regretfully, just like any languages, English is alive: it changes and refurbishes. I’ve noticed that every year about one hundred new words are added and included in the new editions of leading English dictionaries. The majority is IT concerned, nevertheless I would like you young people to challenge and “see the world.” Going places and meeting people lead to understanding each other. English knowledge is inevitable.

To accomplish the goal, “see the world,” I recommend the following ideal steps. The first step is to participate in homestay programs in high school or first years of college. This is to orient yourself to what the hosting level of English and cultural differences are. The second step is to build your environment for speaking English by joining an English Club, participating in meetings and events where you’ll be able to spend time with native speakers of English. You will notice your shyness will gradually go away and confidence will take its place. Then your “see the world” is already here!