Hello, dear readers! Program Leader Michelle here with a photo dump. Our group has been busy meeting native speakers of all ages and personalities. We got to meet and make friends with students at the exciting and globally oriented Suginami Sogo High School, and we made onigiri (rice balls) with elementary aged kids at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center. The high school visit was definitely a highlight for many students, and two of our members, Persephone (B class) and Nee (D class), gave wonderful speeches to a gym full of teachers and students. There may have been some tears. Happy tears, of course.
Konnichiwa! I'm Karen Hendrickson, one of the program leaders for session 2 in Tokyo. Can you believe that we'll be in that crazy city in just a couple days? Believe it or not, I was just there less than a week ago, hanging with my own students. (See photo below, taken in Takayama!!) I've been to Japan over 30 times, 5 (soon to be 6) of those times with CIEE. I first went to Japan as an AFS exchange student for a gap year and, thanks to that experience, decided to become a teacher of Japanese language and culture. I've been doing so in Wisconsin since 1994. When not teaching and/or in Japan, I'm usually on my bike, walking the dog, or doing some other active thing. I'm looking forward to meeting y'all and exploring wonderful - and tasty - Japan with you! Karen
My name is Lauren Gassman - I'm a 2017 Program Leader for the Global Navigator program for Tokyo, Japan. I JUST finished my first year of teaching Japanese at Cass Technical High School, the top ranking school in the city of Detroit, Michigan.
This is my second year doing the Global Navigator Program. I came back to it this year because it was an incredibly enriching experience for me, a newly minted teacher just finishing her certification. The other Japanese teachers I met had a wealth of knowledge and it was an amazing experience. The students were (for the most part) very well behaved and ready to do something different. I LOVED the program, and told as many people as I could about it. Additionally, it gives me some badly needed exposure to Japanese language and culture, which helps me become a better teacher of my students back in the states!
What I am looking forward to the most is meeting all of you; the students who have signed up to come to Tokyo! It is a wonderful city, and though I am new to it as well, it's so nice to see all of you get used to traveling around, speaking the language, and engaging the community! I cannot wait to share stories of things that you like about Japan, and tell you the reason why I fell in love with this country as well! I cannot WAIT to meet all of you (LESS THAN A WEEK! )
Nice to (virtually) meet all of you!
Lauren Gassman (G-Sensei)
PS - Yes, my hair is really blue. I am known at my school as "That teacher with the blue hair"
Print #1 in Utagawa Hiroshige's "Fifty-three stations of the Tokaido" ukiyoe woodblock print series
Program Leader Michelle here again to regale you with more tales of our Tokyo explorations. On Thursday (6/22), we went to Nihonbashi, the "Japan Bridge," the famous starting point of Japan's five great historic roads. This place was a popular subject of ukiyoe woodblock prints. The original bridge was built in 1603, and it quickly became a major economic center throughout Japan's feudal Tokugawa period (1600-1868). Nihonbashi was actually the site of the city's first fish market, the ancestor to today's famous Tsukiji market.
The students traveled through time, from present day Tokyo to old-fashioned Edo, into the era of samurai and geishas...
We started off at the Nihonbashi Information Center, where kimono-clad guides whisked us to a traditional tatami room and let us choose from a wide variety of yukata, the traditional, light-weight summer wear common during Japan's festival season. Yukata-wearing is a complicated art, so a bevy of professionals gathered round to whip the students into gorgeousness in under ten minutes. We took group photos with fancy umbrellas, then slipped into wooden geta sandals and made our way around the Coredo complex, a shopping center full of tasty food and high quality goods. Bystanders stopped in their tracks when they saw us. They gasped and murmured in admiration at our group of finely dressed foreigners.
Next, we visited a chopsticks shop with extra-hefty sticks for sumo wrestlers, and portable sticks for travelers on the go, which break down like a set of tent poles. Just don't lose any pieces! B Class' Gabe and Persephone both did the chopstick challenge, where they moved a box full of slippery beans as fast as they could with a slender pair of hashi. Both did great, but Gabe edged into the winner's circle with the fastest time. We all got a complimentary set of chopsticks. After that, we went to a sweets shop with desserts so pretty it seems a shame to eat them. Some of us even got to try a sample (not this program leader, alas).
Next, we learned how to make katsuobushi (dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna), a common topping for okonomiyaki, that savory pancake we showed you last week. The flakes have a rich, fishy flavor, and, when super-thin-sliced, they wave merrily at you from your plate. The professionals showed us how to "shave" the katsuobushi, then we got to shave a little for ourselves. Gabe, Danielle, and Fayth all stepped up to the shaver. Everyone did well, and the rest of the group was extra impressed with Fayth's professional-level skills (see video above). We also got to try some katsuobushi flavored stock, which was consumed politely, but with less enthusiasm than the sweets. Our taste buds are on tour, too!
We also got a chance to see some impressive gold leaf goods, including a gold leaf face mask, and a hollow golden tower worth I-forget-how-many-hundred-thousand-dollars (we're looking forward to next week, when we travel to Kyoto to see Kinkakuji, a temple totally covered in gold leaf). After our inside tour, we strolled the streets and visited a local Shinto shrine, bowed respectfully at the torii gate, and took plenty of pictures. Once we changed back into our street clothes we passed over the current version of Nihonbashi, built in 1911, and visited what was once the zero kilometer mark for all the country's major roads.
That's all for now. More on our high school visit soon!
Konnichiwa from Tokyo! This is Program Leader Michelle, checking in to give you a visual smorgasbord. CIEE students are busy getting to know many aspects of Japanese language and culture, diligently taking classes in the morning, and jumping right into local excursions in the afternoon. Here's a taste of our adventures this past week:
On Thursday (6/15) we learned about the traditional art of washi, Japanese paper making, courtesy of the lovely folks at Ozu Washi, a shop that's been operating in the Nihonbashi area since 1653. We each got a chance to make our very own washi!
On Friday (6/16), we went to the Suginami Animation Museum, where we enjoyed the exhibits, got our hands on gachapon, and had a "Para para manga" workshop. During the workshop we learned to make flip book animation.
animators in action
interviewing museum visitors in Japanese
shortcut through Ogikubo Hachiman Shrine to get to the bus stop
On Saturday (6/17) we went to Asakusa to visit Senso-ji, eat delicious street snacks, and buy a 100 yen fortune slip.
portrait of student landmark in front of cultural landmark
On Sunday (6/18) we joined Japanese college students on a day-long adventure through Meiji jingu and all-you-can-eat okonomiyaki, a kind of savory Japanese pancake. Very comfort food-y. Our table ate 16!
Touring Meiji jingu with a little help from new friends
So many adventures, so little time! Stay turned for more (^_^)
We are keeping the students busy with their morning language classes and excursions to a variety of places in the city in the afternoons. On Saturday half of the students had a chance to visit Nihonbashi and try on yakata. While dressed in yukata we had an informative tour about the area and visited a number of stores to learn about some well known Japanese products including gold leaf, chopsticks, cooking knives, fish (bonito) flakes and confections. Here are a few photos from the day. The other half will have a chance to do this activity on Thursday!
Learning about different kinds of chopsticks such as portable chopsticks, chopsticks for eating noodles and chopsticks for grilled fish. We also learned how to find chopsticks that are the right length for our hand.
Japanese cooking knives are sharp!!
A walk around the city:
We will post more photos again soon. We'll end with a shot of the program leaders that was taken on Sunday afternoon. We are having a great time getting to know students!
Konnichiwa, minasan. My name is Nathan Bynum and this is my third summer as a program leader in Tokyo! I teach middle school Japanese at the Barack Obama Academy of International Studies in Pittsburgh and online through North Carolina Virtual Public Schools! I'm excited to learn with you this summer in Japan as we discover Tokyo together. I've spent about two years total in Tokyo (six months in high school, ten months in college, and various summers) and every time I go I discover something brand new! I'm looking forward to meeting you all!
Hello Session One to Tokyo! Please check back frequently to catch a glimpse of what we are doing. As the mom of a high school student I would be very curious about what my child is doing if he or she were spending a month in another country. We’ll do our best to post a variety of photos and keep you updated!
My name is Patty Breun and I’ll be the chaperone of the flight out of O’Hare. One suggestion I have about the flight is to bring warm clothing. The plane is air- conditioned and gets quite chilly. If you are wearing sandals I suggest bringing some socks. I plan to wear pants and a long sleeve shirt under my CIEE t-shirt. I’ll also pack a sweatshirt in my carryon. It may be the only time you use it but it will be worth bringing if the flight over is chilly.
Now for my self-intro! This is my second time as a CIEE program leader. My first trip to Japan was in 1990 as a high school exchange student. Since then, most of my jobs have had something to do with Japan. I have lived in Japan for a total of six years during three different times and in five different places. In the United States I have taught elementary through high school Japanese. I also had the opportunity to lead groups of high school and college aged Japanese students on educational tours throughout the United States. Thanks to this job I had a chance to see a lot of my own country! I am really looking forward to being in Japan again this summer. I’m passionate about the language and culture and love to talk about it. I am excited to get to know this group of young adults and watch them experience many things for the first time.
I have two teen-aged sons. One just finished his first year of college and the other is finishing up his sophomore year of high school. I play the violin and started doing yoga three years ago. One of my goals for this summer is to visit a yoga studio in Japan! I also like to run and stay active. Another goal is to visit the Edo Museum on a free time afternoon. I have not been there yet and have always intended to go. I’d be happy to have company so I’ll let the group know when I will be going.
I realize this trip to Japan may be the first time out of the country for a number of students and may be the first time away from family for an extended amount of time. It is my hope that I can establish a trusting relationship with them and be there for them if they are down or bothered by something. For me, my time as an exchange student in Japan changed my course in life. This month in Japan will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on this group as well!
My name is Tiara Harris, but you can call me ハリスせんせい(Harris-sensei). I just finished student-teaching high school Japanese. I also teach ESL. I've been to Japan twice to study abroad, and this time I'm looking forward to exploring Tokyo, as it will be my first time in the city. Can't wait to meet you all!