PUHI — Having a conversation in a second language is challenging enough, but giving a presentation in front of an English-speaking class took a lot of preparation for 12 exchange students from Japan.
On Thursday, students from Japanese Maritime Colleges said their goodbyes to their Kauai Community College classmates after studying Polynesian voyaging for the past two weeks. As a gift, the exchange students gave presentations showcasing their hometowns, Japanese culture and their campus lives.
It was an enriching experience not just for the Japanese exchange students, but for KCC students as well.
“The exchange program is not just catering to visiting groups, but it’s also a way to enrich our education on our campus because not many of our students get to travel and study abroad,” said Kyoko Ikeda-Chun, KCC’s International Program coordinator. “By bringing students from other countries, we hope that our students from Kauai get to learn about other cultures and meet students from other countries and broaden their perspective.”
KCC provides its exchange students with a unique educational opportunity, Ikeda-Chun said.
“We have about eight or nine groups from Japan, Canada and, hopefully, China next year, coming to KCC,” said Ikeda-Chun. “We design programs for them based on their interests. “
The Japanese students, who are studying to become navigators and engineers in the maritime industry, studied Polynesian voyaging with other KCC students. They collaborated on Hawaiian culture projects, all while learning each other’s language.
“It’s pretty exciting. We get to meet new people but it’s also very intimidating, trying to speak with them, because they have very little English,” said KCC student Carli Cawaring. “But we help each other to learn a different language. Out of all the other groups I’ve met, this group has to be the most interactive, more than anyone else. The other groups usually keep to themselves.”
Wataru Shimizu visited Kauai to learn about new forms of navigation but found he learned more outside of the classroom.
“It’s very good. Kauai’s people are very kind and very fun,” Shimizu said. “I live in Central Japan. People here are more friendly here compared to my hometown.”
Fellow student Ryuya Nishida was particularly impressed with the amount of chickens running around freely.
“I was very surprised. So many wild chickens! Japan don’t have any,” Nishida said.
Yutaro Kimura, who was not used to wearing T-shirts to cope with the hot weather, agreed that Kauai is a very different place from Japan.
The 12 students overcame challenges of learning a new language and meeting people from another culture, and drew laughter and applause for their presentations, which made Ikeda-Chun proud of the work she and KCC are doing to create a bridge between two different worlds.
“Kauai, as an island, is such a hospitable place. Many of our faculty and students say what was most impressive about the island is the kindness of the people,” she said. “Coming from Japan, Kauai is a very special place. It’s a safe place, and they also learn outside of class from the community what it means to be a human being by learning through the aloha spirit.”