I came to Japan in April 2014 from Myanmar. I always dreamed of doing further studies in Japan since my childhood. And I thought that Japan and Myanmar have some cultural similarities and I might not face many difficulties surviving Japan. But, I haven’t learned Japanese language before I came to Japan. For my first days in Japan, I joined in the Japanese Intensive Course for about 4 months. During these days, I learned Japanese language with other international students who got the MEXT scholarships like me. It was very enjoyable and I was very excited to enjoy the new environment and the new language.
However, not every day is colorful. Like a chicken who came out from an egg, I tried to adapt myself in the new environment. During the first one and a half years, I found many gaps between Japan and my home country. Japanese people usually do not express their feelings directly. These made me be afraid of communicating with them and stay silent. Later and later, I was stressed out. Some misunderstandings arose between some people and me. Not being able to express my feelings completely and not being able to get mutual understanding, I became depressed and I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, Nitobe School helped me to find myself once again in the new environment.
Frankly speaking, I did not know well about Nitobe School Program when I applied for it. For me, the reasons for joining this program are making new friends and finding a place where I can communicate with others in English. However, I found that Nitobe School is a very good place not only for Japanese students but for international students. Generally, Japanese students and international students are living in separate societies although all are studying in the same university campus; the communication gap between these communities is quite large. In that case, Nitobe School acts as a bridge that strengthens the relationship between Japanese student community and international student community. It is also the best place to improve oneself and enjoy learning through active learning strategy.
There are four courses in the Basic Program of Nitobe School in which lectures are provided in the active learning style and students play a major role in every lecture. Major activities are in the form of team work activities starting from small projects to global problems. Team members’ active participation is very important to accomplish the project within project timeline. We learned a lot through these basic courses. The courses cover effective team management, schedule management, communication management and so on, which are very important in effective working environment. Moreover, students sometimes switch roles during project implementations to experience every role activities in performing projects.
To acclimatize to active learning, the program starts with Startup Course, implemented mainly in Japanese language. Of course, Startup Course will make international students somewhat inconvenient but I am sure that all students will not have many difficulties during that period. English handouts are available and active English-speaking Japanese students are willing to help you. After Startup course, students are encouraged to use English more in their class activities. Global Issues Course widens our knowledge of global challenges. As for me, I like problem solving and problem finding courses the best. In Problem-solving Course, we were assigned to solve the real-world problem and supposed to find a solution based on diverse backgrounds. I got so many experiences especially in facilitating within a team and time management although it was quite tough during that project. Based on the experiences that I learned from problem solving project, my team members and I could handle the final problem finding project happily and conveniently. Although our work was not perfect because of the time limitation, we were satisfied with our work done.
Self-improvement of all the students during the four courses was significantly reflected in the final project presentation such as English language ability, team management ability, facilitation ability. Especially for me, I got the feeling of self-satisfaction at what I have done during the Basic Program. First, I could improve my Japanese Speaking ability significantly with the help of my Japanese classmates. Second, I also regained my confidence not only for doing the new things but in doing team work activities effectively and enjoyably with diverse team members. What I love most is that I could build trust with friends, teachers and even the society during our fieldwork area in the final project. Sure, I could find myself once again in this Nitobe School and I got unimaginable benefits from the Basic Program. The next beneficiary will be you! Let’s join our Nitobe School and get incredible benefits for your successful and enjoyable life!!!
Phyo Thandar Thant
Doctoral Course Student, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology