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Peace for the 21st Century
Japanese Studies Symposium at Seton Hall

In early April, the "Sixth Annual Graduate Student and School Teacher Symposium on Japanese Studies" was held at Seton Hall University, in South Orange, New Jersey. The Symposium was part of Japan Week 2003, with the theme "Peace for the 21st Century." Japan Week 2003 kicked off with "High Hopes for Peace: The Third Annual Kite Contest," held on the University Green, where kites were judged on flying height, size and creativity. The rest of the week included movies and discussions, as well as travel seminars. The final event in Japan Week 2003 was the Symposium on Japanese Studies.

Edwin Pak-wah Leung, Chair of the Department of Asian Studies at Seton Hall, welcomed participants, and several awards were presented. Judith B. O'Loughlin, of Ho-Ho-Kus Public School, received the Award for Excellence in Teaching Multicultural Education and Michael Mitchell, of New Providence High School, received the Award for Excellence in Teaching Japanese.

Judith B. O’Loughlin teaches English as a Second Language to students of various ethnic backgrounds, some from Japan, Korea, India, Germany, Sweden, France, Quebec, Lebanon and Jordan, at the Ho-Ho-Kus Public School. In the past 15 years at the school in Ho-Ho-Kus, she has developed a curriculum for K-8 students, which focuses on language arts, social studies and science as a means to learn English. She differentiates instruction for the needs of individual students and meets with the students’ parents to assist and provided additional support for the students. O’Loughlin has sought out and applied for grants in order to provide additional classroom materials, such as computers, printers and software. She is an adjunct graduate professor in the Department of Multicultural Education at New Jersey City University. Beyond the classroom, O’Loughlin has collaborated with the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Bilingual Education and Equity Issues. She has served as president of NJTESOL/NJBE, Inc. (New Jersey Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages and New Jersey Bilingual Educators), Awards Standing Committee chairperson (TESOL), Elementary and Secondary Act Task Force member (TESOL), Elementary Interest Section E-List co-manager (TESOL), and on Ho-Ho-Kus school committees, working close with the Superintendent of the School to continue improvements on instruction and facilities. She is actively involved in workshops and conferences on both the state and national levels.

Michael Mitchell teaches Japanese at New Providence High School in New Providence, New Jersey. He strives to connect his students and the language they learn with the world outside of the classroom by implementing cultural and student exchange programs with schools in Fukui and Toyama Prefecture, Japan. E-mail assignments and vacations help students use their language skills with native speakers of their own age. He uses crosscurricular teaching techniques as part of his course instruction. His students have worked with the AP art class to make Japanese tea bowls and fired them Raku style, partnered with English classes on Haiku poetry projects, and teamed with students in the Industrial Arts class to design and created a Zen Rock Garden in the school courtyard. The combination of elementary and middle school students working on the 1,000 Crane Project has sent their works of art to the Peace Park in Hiroshima. Mitchell has created a Japanese Volunteer Program at his school, which brings local Japanese women to his high school each month to teach Japanese culture, cooking and practice speaking with his students. In the classroom, he uses anime, music, and various interpersonal and kinesthetic techniques to encourage the use of the language and promote a better understanding of Japanese and other Asian cultures. Outside of the classroom, Mitchell is working toward a master’s degree in Asian studies at Seton Hall University.

The keynote speaker at the Japanese studies symposium was Hiroki Kikuchi, assistant professor at the HistorioGraphical Insitute, University of Tokyo. He has been researching Japanese Buddhism history from the Heian to Kamakura period and focusing on the folk religions such as Hijiri, Jikyosha and Itabi. A great project of his homeland, which Kikuchi has taken part in researching, regards the historical documents of the Meiji period in Japan. He is in charge of researching a diary of an aristocrat, Sanjo Sanemi in the Kamakura period. The research of the medieval aristocratic society of Japan stems from his previous published volumes of the diary, “Sanemi-kyo-ki”, Volume 3 and 4 (Iwanamishoten, 1998 and 2001). Kikuchi is currently with the East Asian studies department of Princeton University and a visiting fellow researching the academic situation of Japanese studies in America.

Symposium participants spent the day discussing "Japanese Diplomacy and World Security," "Japanese Economy and Society" and "Japanese History, Religion and Culture." The Master of Ceremonies was David Randolph, of the Center for U.N. Reform Education.

Report by Robb Scott, Hays, KANSAS

2003 ESL MiniConference Online