Tokyo students share tradition, lessons with CCPS
Students of Tokyo’s Bunkyo University spent nearly two weeks in Charles County sharing their knowledge while soaking up ideas to take back home and to their classrooms.
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and Bunkyo, a private university that primarily offers teacher education, have had a partnership since 1987 when the University of Maryland organized the program. Since 1992, Bunkyo students studying to be teachers have visited the States. While in Charles County, the group stays in a hotel for the first week and with host families during the second week, according to a release.
“We welcome Bunkyo University students aspiring to be teachers each school year,” said Superintendent Kimberly Hill. “They can get hands-on educational experience in our classrooms, while our students have the opportunity to learn about Japanese culture and social traditions. This experience benefits everyone involved in this cross cultural exchange.”
The college students arrived in the county on Feb. 20. During the first week, they attended a welcome at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building with presentations about education in America and using technology in the classroom. They learned about telepresence, Bee Bot robotics and career and technology education and programs. They toured the one-room schoolhouse, visited the James E. Richmond Science Center and observed classes at Theodore G. Davis Middle School and Henry E. Lackey and North Point high schools.
The second week of their stay, the students traveled to University of Maryland, College Park for a day and taught lessons at Mary H. Matula, Gale-Bailey, Berry, William A. Diggs and Dr. James Craik elementary schools, Theodore G. Davis and Milton M. Somers middle schools and North Point High School.
While Bunkyo students travel with chaperones — Aya Mitani, professor of music education at Bunkyo, and Toshihisa Steve Fukuda, vice professor of English education at the university, along with CCPS staff — when they got to Somers, the college students had an impromptu translator in seventh grader Laker Alfano. Alfano said his mother is Japanese and he lived in Japan for a while, but he had no idea he’d be talking with college students that day, much less talking to them in Japanese.
Somers sixth graders in Teresa Buckmaster’s social studies class benefitted from an origami lesson led by Rito Ikeda. With the help of a PowerPoint presentation, Ikeda and fellow Bunkyo student Minami Sato helped the younger students create a paper crane. The students appreciated learning about another culture. “It gives you a new outlook on the world,” said Trinity Lang, a Somers sixth grader. “If you learn about other people, it helps you in life.”
Bunkyo University student teacher Rito Ikeda, center, helps Milton M. Somers Middle School sixth graders Terrell Pullen, left, and Kristin Tojek make paper cranes during their social studies class.
Kenya Wadayama, left, signs Milton M. Somers Middle School seventh grader Laker Alfano’s agenda book. Alfano helped translate for the visiting Bunkyo University students when they taught at Somers.
Henry E. Lackey High School senior Victoria Martin, right, talks with visiting Bunkyo University students who observed an Advanced Placement calculus class. Pictured from left are Nami Fujishima, Ren Hirayama and Kanae Oishi.