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ONU Holds Third Annual Japan Camp

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The U.S.- Japan Camp is an innovative, academically-oriented immersion program for American high school students. This is the third year for this educational outreach program at Ohio Northern University and was held July 18th-August 1st. The camp size nearly doubled from the previous year to 23 participants. Students were provided with intensive instruction in Japanese language, calligraphy, and social studies. Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. in Marysville contributed to the success of this year’s U.S. – Japan camp with a grant of $5,000.

Among the 23 participants, the camp included 16 girls and 7 boys. As in past years, a number of students traveled great distances to attend the program. Students from Texas, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Indiana joined participants from Ohio, and one student from the 2009 camp returned for a second year.

Directed by Ohio Northern University’s Department of History, Politics and Justice, the U.S.- Japan Camp provided students with daily Japanese language instruction (JSL). Several students had previous Japanese language instruction and were provided enhanced sessions.

Each student prepared a language presentation. All students demonstrated language improvement in the following areas: general language, conversational sentences and writing Hiragana. Language assessment materials and examples of Hiragana writing are included as Attachment A. The social studies course provided learning experiences that allowed students to study and explore Japanese history and government. This year’s topic was comparative politics in which students examined the American and Japanese political systems. The students were given the assignment of creating Powerpoint programs examining topics such as “the Unitary Political System vs. Federal Political System,” “Influences on the American and Japanese Constitutions,” and “Japanese and American Interest Groups.”

Once again, campers were provided the opportunity to interact with Japanese students through a unique collaboration with the Sakae Institute for Study Abroad held annually on the campus of Ohio Northern. The Sakae Institute is a preparation program for Japanese students who will begin studies at U.S. boarding schools or colleges and universities in the fall. Students from both programs benefited from opportunities for interaction occurring outside the classroom. These activities were curriculum-based and often bridged the cultures, prompting greater communication between the respective groups. Some of these activities included: calligraphy, Japanese eating etiquette, and an Iron Chef event. Food certainly brought individuals together. The students really enjoyed preparing Japanese dishes such as sushi, rice balls and mochi, the field trip to a Japanese market, eating at a Japanese restaurant and the barbecue at Dr. Alexander’ home.

All students performed admirably in their coursework and subsequently earned four college credits from Ohio Northern University.

Each year it is encouraging to see the relationships that form among camp participants. The closing banquet is a time not only to reflect on the campers’ accomplishments, but the friendships developed over the course of the program.

Camp staff included Dr. Robert Alexander II, ONU Associate Professor of Political Science, who has served as camp director for the past three years; Dr. Kofi Nsia-Pepra, ONU Assistant Professor of Political Science, social studies course instructor; and Satomi Wise, JSL instructor and Assistant Director. The camp was able to add a new position, program aide, which was filled by Tomoko Betz. Three Ohio Northern students served as Program Assistants.

A Facebook site on the Internet has been initiated allowing for continued communication among all participants. It is worth noting that students from past years have remained in touch. A number of camp alumni have held reunions over the past 3 years at different sites throughout the state of Ohio.

More information on the camp can be found at the Japan Camp website. Also, to learn more about the camp, check out a video made by Randy Walk of the Office of Communications and Marketing.