(For the Japanese version of this article)

The 34th IEJ (International Educators to Japan) Program (FY2008) [June 22-July 2, 2008]

The 34th IEJ (International Educators to Japan) Program (FY2008)


The (34th) IEJ Program 2008 was held from June 22nd (Sunday) to July 2nd (Wednesday). 41 educators and 7 partners (48 individuals in total) from 5 different countries in Europe and America participated in the program.

Organizd by:Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST)
Co-sponsors in Japan:Calbee Foods Co., Ltd., Suzunoya Incorporated
Cooperating Organizations in Japan:(listed in order of scheduled visits)
Tachiai Elementary School in Shinagawa Ward, Hamakawa Junior High School in Shinagawa Ward, Meiji Jingu, Nara International Exchange Volunteers Association, Todaiji Temple, Ikaruga Homestay Society, Ikaruga ICES SGG, Ikaruga Town, Horyuji Temple, Ikaruga Elementary School, Noh-gaku Kongo-ryu Shitekata Nara Kongo Association, Toyota International Association, Toyota Motor Corporation, City Board of Education in Toyota City, Dojiyama Elementary School in Toyota City, Aoki Elementary School in Toyota City, Sanagedai Junior High School in Toyota City, Sueno Elementary School in Toyota City, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Hongwanji International Center

Dates: June 22 (Sun) - July 2 (Wed), 2008


41 public school teachers / school board members and 7 partners from 5 countries.
Details of the total 48 individuals are as follows;
-Countries: USA (40), Canada (3), UK (2), the Netherlands (1), Belgium (2)
-Visits to Japan: First visit for 45 of the participants

Number of participants listed separately by sponsor Japanese Business Associations
(listed in order of their years of program participation):
Sponsor Japanese Business Associations, etc.
No. of Participants
(incl. partners)
USA Los Angeles Japan Business Association of Southern California
13 (1)
USA Houston Japanese Business Association of Houston
USA San Francisco San Francisco Japanese Language Class, Inc.
USA Dallas Dallas Japanese Association
USA Atlanta The Japanese Chamber of Commerce Georgia
USA Denver Japanese Firms Association of Colorado
USA Detroit Japanese Business Society of Detroit
13 (5)
USA San Diego San Diego Nihongo Kyoiku Shinkokai
Canada Toronto Toronto Japanese Association of Commerce and Industry
3 (1)
UK Scotland The Scotland Japanese Chamber of Commerce
The Netherlands Amsterdam The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Netherlands
USA Portland Shokokai of Portland
Belgium Brussels EU-Japan Center for Industrial Cooperation
USA San Antonio San Antonio Japanese Companies Association

Visited places

-Seminar 1: Survival Japanese Lesson
Ms. Masako Enomoto

-Seminar 2: Japanese Society and Culture
Dr. Jennifer Cancio

-Seminar 3: School in Japan, Japanese Children Overseas
Mr. Nobuyuki Sassa


-Tachiai Elementary School
-Hamakawa Junior High School
-Suzunoya Inc.
-Appreciate Swordsmanship

1.Ikaruga Group Todaiji-Temple, Horyuji-Temple, Horyuji-Temple, Horyuji-Temple, Todaiji-Temple
2.Nara Group Todaiji-Temple,Todaiji-Temple, Kawakami Village, Todaiji-Temple
3.Toyota Group Toyota Factory, Toyota Kaikan、Toyota Motor Corporation, Aoki Elementary School, Dojiyama Elementary school, Sanagedai Junior High School, Sueno Elementary School, Todaiji-Temple

-Sueno Elementary School
-Peace Memorial Park
-Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
-Nishi-Hongwanji Hiunkaku
-Heian Jingu
-Kiyomizu Temple

-Yuzen Stencil Dyeing
-Nishiki Market "Kitchen of Kyoto"
-Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum


American and European-style demonstration lessons were conducted at the Tachiai Elementary School and Hamakawa Junior High School (public schools) in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward.

Tachiai Elementary School


Hamakawa Junior High School

Experienced wearing Japanese kimonos with the support of kimono company Suzunoya Inc.


Trying on a kimono, sponsored by Suzunoya.

Visited Meiji-Jingu Shrine and experienced martial arts at the Shiseikan martial arts training hall.
Participated in home stay programs in Nara, Ikaruga and Toyota City in order to experience regional lifestyles and culture, have exchanges with local people and enjoy the appeal of rural Japan.
Visited Kyoto and Hiroshima to get a better understanding of Japanese history and culture. Calbee Foods Co. Ltd. sponsored the visit to Hiroshima.

What are Demonstration Lessons?
Demonstration Lesson, or “Demo Lesson”, refers to a project in which American and European teachers participating in the IEJ program replicate the lessons they conduct in their home countries as a demonstration for elementary and junior high school students in Japan. By conducting these lessons without any support from interpreters or Japanese teachers, the educators visiting from Europe and America can obtain a better understanding of Japanese students and English language instruction in Japan. The Japanese students are also given the chance to experience “real English lessons”. In the 2008 program, 18 visiting educators each conducted two 45-minute lessons at the Tachiai Elementary School in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo and 9 educators each conducted one 50-minute lesson at the Hamakawa Junior High School, also in Shinagawa Ward. These educators had to prepare the lesson content, materials and proceedings beforehand and coordinate with the Japanese teachers. This year a wide variety of subjects were covered including English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Art and P.E.

Robye Snyder teacher

Name: Robye Snyder (from Texas, US)
Subject: Mathematics
Lesson: Title Butterfly Race to 100
Grade: 1 & 2

Lina Horsburgh teacher

Name: Lina Horsburgh (from Scotland)
Subject: Mathematics
Lesson Title: Scottish Numbers
Grade: Grade 1 & 2

Barbara Winkfield teacher

Name: Barbara Winkfield (from Michigan, US)
Subject: English
Lesson Title: Hip Hop Hello
Grade: Grade 5 & 6

Dyanna Espinoza teacher

Name: Dyanna Espinoza (from California, US)
Subject: Art
Lesson Title: Walk, Jog, Run
Grade: Grade 4 & 5

Stephanie Wachsmuth teacher

Name: Stephanie Wachsmuth (from Oregon, US)
Subject: English, Social Science
Lesson Title: What is Peace?
Grade: Grade 9

Christian Noyon teacher

Name: Christian Noyon (from Brussels, Belgium)
Subject: Geography
Lesson Title: A Trip Across the European Cultural Diversity
Grade: Grade 9

Voices of Participants / Observers

-"I’m so glad I did this. The teachers were welcoming and the students were precious. They were well behaved, enthusiastic and learned quickly."(By Robye Snyder)

-"This is a great chance for teachers to experience the opposite of what their Japanese students experience on coming to the U.S. I highly recommend it."(By Sheri Shannon)

Ikaruga Elementary School

Ikaruga Elementary School

-"It was a great opportunity to experience, teaching in another country. I was a bit nervous about it, but I’m so glad I did it." (By Suzanne Zaima)

-"Excellent experience; I felt so welcomed and enjoyed all the activities."(By Dyanna Espinoza)
Dojiyama Elementary School

Dojiyama Elementary School

-“Wow! Great introduction to learning about the educational system in an authentic way. Great school, staff, administrator and students.”(By Barbara Winkfield)

-"I enjoyed watching my colleagues teach the children. My observations confirmed my belief that children are very similar in all parts of the world."(By Ian Mann)
Sueno Elementary School

Sueno Elementary School

-"I have experienced how Japanese children feel when they come to Scotland-I have experienced it now in Japan where I could not speak the language."(By Lina Horsburgh)

-All the educators from overseas were impressed with the friendly, animated students and the open atmosphere of the schools backed up with the supports of PTA and local community. The following are the comments from a few participants.
Aoki Elementary School and Sanagedai Junior High School

Aoki Elementary School and Sanagedai Junior High School

-“The walk to Sueno with all the kids was one of my favorite moments. A sense of safety, independence was everywhere.”(By Thaier Kinaya)

-“Exemplar school! A model that should be replicated! The administration, staff and students were incredible! A model educational experience. World Class that should be seen globally!”(By Barbara Winkfield)


Mr. Aki Mori spent 3 days and 2 nights in the town of Ikaruga. He shares his essay about his experience in Ikaruga and the IEJ Program. Mr. Mori’s parents are Japanese, but he was born and raised in the US.

How a Small Town Taught Me to Dream Big Aki Mori
Since returning home from this year’s IEJ program, I’ve re-dedicated myself to studying Japanese. And so when I came across an award-winning Japanese book, written in Japanese by an American, I thought that it would be a quality piece of Japanese literature that would be readable (given my proficient, but limited reading skills), but also enriching and challenging. In this book, translated into English and published under the title “Lost Japan”, the author Alex Kerr writes that in his travels to the Iya Valley in Shikoku he finally found the answer to the question of whether Japan was the kind of country where he would like to live. In returning to Japan for the first time in 15 years, I too found myself having this exact experience.

For me to say that I would like to live in Japan is a huge deal. I was born and raised in the United States. Including a year abroad in Japan when I was in high school, I probably visited Japan six or seven times through the course of my childhood. My first job right out of college was in international business, and so as a businessman I further visited Japan three times. But never through all of my memorable experiences in Japan had I ever thought that this was the kind of country in which I would like to live. As a foreign student in Japan I witnessed the stresses and rigidity of the Japanese college entrance exam system. As an adult I could only shake my head at the excessive and wasteful overtime hours Japanese business people were expected to endure as part of their professional lives. In many ways, I felt sorry for the Japanese people. On top of all this, today I am married with two small children, and so I don’t have the luxury of being able to run off on any old adventure that comes to mind.

Like the Iya Valley for Kerr, however, what changed me was my experience in the small town of Ikaruga.
Whereas Kerr was moved primarily by the stunning natural beauty of Iya, in my case, it was the people of Ikaruga that changed my perspective. Everywhere I went, in so many conversations I had with the townsfolk of Ikaruga, I came across evidence of a community that was self-assured, dare I even say, individualistic in relation to its place within Japanese society. At a lunchtime event at Ikaruga Elementary School, I sat next to a sixth grade boy who told me that no, he didn’t go to an after school tutoring program (as is the norm all across Japan). Instead, he took swimming lessons. The principal of this same school was noticeably embarrassed to concede in response to a question posed to him that children of Ikaruga attended after school tutoring programs at a dramatically lower rate than did children in other parts of the country. A mother of two young children whom I had met at a welcoming party in Ikaruga expressed her thoughts in this way: “I would like to see my children grow up, coming home muddy from playing in the rice fields, and learning to live like kids. In my opinion, swimming or music lessons would be much more valuable than extra tutoring.” And finally, in spending two days with my homestay family, the Abes, I saw a family that lived in harmony with their environment, that was exceedingly human, and that lived with a richness of heart far out of proportion to their modest home, situated on a narrow road. In all these interactions, it wasn’t just the message that struck me - it was the consistency and re-occurrence of the message. Once I realized that there might be pockets of livable communities in Japan like Ikaruga, it freed my mind to conceive of bringing my family to Japan, to experience Japanese life, even if for a short period of time.

I knew from the outset, even as I applied for the IEJ experience, that my Japanese background would make me different from the “typical” participant in this program. But through the course of the ten days as I assisted various colleagues in absorbing Japanese culture and society, I found myself re-connecting with the power and uniqueness of my own identity. I say “re-connect” because there certainly was a time in my earlier years when I was living my potential as a kind of bridge between Japanese and American culture. This was especially true during my professional years in international business. However, somewhere along the way, as my heart moved away from business and towards public education, and as I started my own family and shifted my focus on my children’s potential, I settled into a comfortable life as a “finished product.” But this experience with the IEJ program has caused me to realize that there is still much room for my own personal growth, and that I could yet have an exciting role to play in life, beyond the boundaries of my family or classroom. When I think of my own family, my wife who is Chinese, and my two children who already speak the three languages of English, Japanese, and Chinese, my dreams and my sense of the possibilities expand even more.

On the IIST website I read of the hope that “Japan and the world will find increasing peace and will prosper with an abundance of heart.” Every country of the world embraces its own unique history, traditions, and national identity. Yet in so many ways we share the very same struggles. In the face of modernity, how do we maintain the connections to our past? How do we resist the corrosive influences of materialism? Can we embrace technology without losing our sense of community? How do we protect the environment? Are we in control of our own destiny? These are all problems every country faces, yet they are also problems every individual faces at the level of their day-to-day living. This is why programs such as IEJ’s are so necessary and invaluable - they attempt to solve these problems in the only way they can be, through the connection of people who were formerly strangers, one person at a time. In the 34 years of this program’s existence over a thousand people have journeyed to Japan. One thousand - such a large number, and yet in other ways such a tiny one. Whatever the context, I am so grateful to now be counted among this number, and proud to share in your mission.

International Exchange Dept.

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