Let’s talk in Japanese with volunteer language partners.
Every week, you will have the opportunity to interact with a Japanese volunteer conversation partner.
Foreign students residing in Japan have made the following comments: ‘Though I live in Japan, I do not have many opportunities to meet and become friends with Japanese people.’ Another person said ‘all my friends are from my home country so outside school I do not have a chance to speak Japanese.’ One of the benefits of studying Japanese in Japan is that you have the opportunity to speak freely with Japanese people. Osaka YMCA wants to make sure this happens, so a conversation partner program with volunteer tutors was established. Every week, these tutors, who are recognized by YMCA as volunteer workers, spend time talking with and helping students with Japanese. Students can talk about anything with their partner; about Japan, about their own country, about the Japanese mind, cultural differences and anything else!
Interview with two conversation partners (student and Japanese partner)
Foreign student: Yang,Shu-an(Taiwan)
Q：What kind of person is your Japanese partner?
A：She is very kind. I feel like I am talking with family when we talk, because it is one-on-one. There are many things I still do not understand, so my partner is like my “walking dictionary”.
Q：What kind of things do you talk with your partner about?
A： I love Japanese food, so sometimes I get tips about cheap and tasty restaurants. I also tell her about some of my problems and she gives me advice.
Q：Lastly, please make a comment about this conversation partner program.
A：We have only one hour for this activity, but it is my favorite hour. In the minds of the foreign students, the Japanese partners are indispensable! Thank you!
Japanese partner: Ms. Kumamoto
Every time I meet my new foreign conversation partner, I have mixed feelings: anticipation and anxiety because I do not know what the student is expecting from me, the Japanese partner, so sometimes I ask directly. I enjoy learning many things as I find out what the students knew about Japan before arriving, what they imagined Japan to be and to hear what they found the actual situation to be. I enjoy having the students talk about the good qualities of their own countries as well as those of Japan and have them compare the differences. They tell me about the cultural differences regarding food. Many things we have not heard about through the media. There are always interesting things to talk about. My policy is to think through things with my foreign partner. And, possibly due to that, though some of my foreign conversation partners have graduated more than 10 years ago, we still keep in contact. Through this system, we have a great opportunity to interact with young foreign students and broadening our horizons.
Osaka YMCA Gakuin offers many opportunites for foreign students to interact with Japanese people. Every year, YMCA students participate in several cross-cultural activities that are held in collaboration with nearby elementary schools, and junior and senior high schools. Also, students enjoy a 3-day homestay trip to Awajishima in Hyogo prefecture. The most popular event during the stay is the “Inaka (country life) Sports Day”. There are many activities for foreign students to participate in where they will have opportunities to interact with Japanese people and volunteer staff.
International Volunteer Group WACHACHA- CLUB
Osaka YMCA has an International Volunteer Group WACHACHA- CLUB which is specifically for foreign students of the Japanese program. This group takes part in the new student welcome party, traditional Japanese activities, the Garage Sale (where students can buy goods cheaply) and also the big event of the year, the FAMILY CARNIVAL where the students cook and sell traditional foods from their home countries.
An event that originated as a flea market for foreign students, has turned into a 1-day for everyone related to Osaka YMCA. It is an event with performances and various booths, held on Culture Day, Nov 3. One of the popular events of the day is the International Booth Village put on by the Japanese Language Department. The students prepare and sell food from their countries here. In support of the foreign students, a portion of the proceeds goes toward “Osaka YMCA International Scholarship.”