This week I was invited to attend the Osaka Summer School programme, hosted by the University of Leeds, England, a partner university with Osaka University, Japan. The programme gives 16 to 18 year old college students from Osaka the opportunity to discover British education and culture. The programme is pretty awesome; it incorporates module related field trips as well as cultural excursions.
Sat on a round table with four Japanese teenagers, all eager to exercise their English speaking skills, we tucked in to our ‘Nandos Style’ chicken. For most of them it was their first time outside of Japan, and I commend them on their bravery, travelling to the other side of the world in the bid to broaden their horizons. After the introductions were over, we started talking more about their life in England so far and what they wish to achieve at the end of it all.
As I got to know the Japanese students more, it was apparent they were highly intelligent individuals, who not only excelled in academia but were strikingly gifted in classical music as well as fine arts. All of my compliments were greeted with the utmost of modesty, which reinforced their Japanese characteristics of unpretentiousness. They all knew what courses they needed to study, in order for them to reach their chosen career path. The difference between British and Japanese students was strikingly apparent.
After dinner, it was time to chill out in a Victorian style drawing room, where we played games. The giant Jenga set was popular; it was interesting to see the students automatically opt for playing collectively as a team, as opposed to the ‘everyman for himself’ strategy.
As well as the giant Jenga set, there was also a giant Connect-Four, as well as board-games. Speaking of which, I was surprised to see that chess was more popular with the Japanese students than Monopoly!
Maybe if they had known that Yutaka Okada of Japan was the champion of the Monopoly World Tournament 2000, they might have given it a go!
As part of the varied social programme, the students were asked to form groups of 5 for the ‘Brit quiz’. I was really looking forward to this, as I wanted to know what kind of questions the quiz would have and to test my own knowledge. I started to mentally brainstorm the kind of questions I would put on the ‘Brit quiz’ if I were ever to create one…something about the Royal Family, Shakespeare and even something about the Olympics? Anyway I really enjoyed helping them with the ‘Brit quiz’ and found it interesting trying to explain things like bangers and mash, cottage pie and who Robin Hood was.
I really enjoyed interacting with the students, and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to practice my Japanese. If you ever have the chance to partake in similar programmes you should certainly give it a shot!