Below is a blog from Principal Todd Losié of Foreign Language Immersion & Cultural Studies School (FLICS) on his students’ experience in Japan. The students left for the all-expense-paid trip on Saturday, May 25, 2013 and will provide updates on their journey!
Title: Japan-Day 2
I was able to say “hi” to a few of you this morning Skyping or FaceTime-ing your babies. The kids are scheduled to wake up around 6:00 am our time which will be around 5 pm your time.
However, don’t talk too long. Our guide reigns with an iron fist, and woe to those who are late – and don’t make Ohgata sensei mad. ;-)
Day 2 went pretty well. The biggest cultural adjustment is the concept of “on time”. Quite frankly, you couldn’t get two cultures together that were more different. In Japanese culture, one needs to be 10 minutes ahead to be polite and to ensure that one is on time. In America, being “on-time” is sometimes a personal definition. The challenge is to speak to the reality so that students understand that “when in Rome…” one needs to be “on-time” by “Roman” or Japanese standards. This has proved to be an interesting, but a valuable experience.
Students visited the National Museum of Tokyo today and the National Museum of Natural Science. The students were subjected to an orientation with the hosting foundation, the Japan Foundation. Like the flight, that was an experience in “suck it up and deal with it”. Through that as well, students learned about Japanese culture. One does not chew gum or eat mints or candy during a lecture. Period. It should be noted that the second speaker had noted that our students had more experience in the language and culture. He appeared quite surprised at our students’ knowledge and reminded them to thank their teacher. :-)
Over the past few days, several students have come up to me and shared that they just had a “real” conversation in Japanese. For a language educator, this just melts my heart. This is where the rubber meets the road. One can talk about Japanese language and culture on the west side of Detroit for years, but until a student realizes the real life realities, it remains in “la la land”. I get goose bumps when a student describes to me their reaction to having had a conversation with another person. It sounds trivial, but for language students it is a major coup – all the pieces drop in place and they instantly realize that all the stuff they were taught was for a reason and they are filled with confidence that they can survive in this foreign culture (for any language).
Attached are some pictures I took from today. I am sure your kids took a lot as well. I also post the same pictures and picture-specific comments to the official FLICS Facebook page. So, please go to FLICS.ME and click on the “like” link for the correct FLICS Facebook page.
Well, have a nice day. I just wanted to share with you some notes from today.
Todd Losié, Principal
Foreign Language Immersion & Cultural Studies (FLICS)