U.S. Embassy Microgrant Initiative 2017-2018 Project Summaries
April 18th, 2018
USJETAA partners with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to award microgrants (grants of small amounts of funding) to current American JET Program(me) teachers to support projects in schools and communities. Take a look the projects that were approved for the 2017-2018 grant year. We look forward to sharing the results once all the projects are completed!
Pre-Depature Training for the Shingu-Santa Cruz Business Internship Program
Location: Shingu-shi, Wakayama-ken
A U.S. JET, alongside the Shingu Sister City Committee and Santa Cruz Sister City Committee, will organize and provide pre-departure training needed for the Shingu–Santa Cruz Business Internship Program.
The Shingu and Santa Cruz Sister City Committees are currently selecting a highly motivated Shingu City resident for this internship program. During the summer of 2018, the individual will have the opportunity to stay in Santa Cruz, California for three months with a host family, and will participate in an internship at a local organization in order to learn about American business practices.
The intern will require pre-departure training to ensure a smooth transition into the American workforce, which the JET Program teacher will provide. This training will include advanced English lessons, an online course in American business culture, and training seminars given via Skype by the organization accepting the intern. The pre-departure training will last for five weeks, and will be held at Shingu City Hall.
Passport to the U.S.: Winter Holiday Fair
Location: Hitachiota, Ibaraki
Two U.S. JETs will organize a holiday fair that celebrates America’s multi-cultural traditions that occur in December. The fair will be for approximately 40 junior high school and community language class students, their families, JTEs, school staff, and Board of Education colleagues. With an emphasis on diversity, the fair will focus on of Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. The organizers will “recruit” other JETs from the surrounding area to share how they celebrate these holidays. The fair be comprised of a series of booths where participants can sample a variety of holiday traditions. For example, one booth may focus on the history of Hanukkah while another teaches holiday greetings or Christmas carols. The booths will relay information differently (i.e. music, games, displays, or arts and crafts). To create a more authentic atmosphere, appropriate decorations, music, and light refreshments will be present.
Eigo de Ohanashikai
Location: Yamatokoriyama, Nara
Children come to the local library for English/Japanese story time every other month where they sing English songs, do crafts in English, and play games. The goal is to foster an interest in English learning while introducing American and global values through children’s literature. The children have read popular American titles such as Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Little Engine That Could and many more. It is a good opportunity for all children in Koriyama to interact in an English environment while being exposed to global perspectives. The project began in 2014 with the cooperation of library staff and the then JET teacher. However, the library has a limited number of books in English. They plan to purchase more English children’s books, especially works from influential American writers such as Dr. Seuss, Marc Brown, Bill Martin Jr. etc.
Location: Miyakanojo, Miyazaki
The JET teacher will promote cross- cultural American studies, culture, music, sports, art etc. by first starting a pen-pal exchange with high school students in San Francisco, California. This will ensure both the Japanese students as well as the American students will get a firsthand look at each other’s daily lives and culture. After a few letter and video chat exchanges, the students at the JET’s school will present an American interests of their choosing in groups to other students, teachers, and parents when they have an open house at the school. The viewers will have the chance to get a firsthand look into the lives of other similar aged students abroad in hopes of creating a bridge and cross-cultural interest between the two countries.
Growing Up Haafu: A discussion on Japanese-American Identity in Japan and the US
Location: Beppu City, Oita
The goal of this event is to inspire connection, support, and a sense of belonging for students of multicultural identities, while also providing students with helpful tips and resources on how to be more understanding and inclusive of culturally diverse peers. The event will take place entirely in English (with Japanese scripts to be projected during speeches). The workshops will have bilingual volunteers to facilitate discussion.
1st: Professor from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University as keynote speaker to provide context, research, and knowledge about multicultural identity as experienced in Japan and in the United States
2nd: Panel of two ALTs to discuss growing up Japanese-American in the US.
3rd: Panel of two community members to discuss growing up Japanese-American in Japan.
There will also be an interactive breakout sessions for panelists and students to discuss and debrief issues related to multicultural identity.
International Senior HS Letter Exchange
Students will exchange letters and other cultural items with an American high school. Each student is assigned a student from the American high school. Japanese students write rough drafts which are checked by the JTE and JET, and encouraged to focus on communication rather than correct grammar. In addition to letters, cultural items such as toys, books, and small food items can be sent. When the reply letters arrive, JTEs and JETs help translate and clarify any cultural references, and distribute any American cultural items. Letters and items are approved by both American teachers and the JTE and JETs before distribution. Students are not allowed to exchange emails, phone numbers, and other social media information during the letter exchange to ensure protection of the student’s privacy. Letters are unsealed, but addressed to the specific recipient. As this letter exchange is completed outside of class on a voluntary basis, students are encouraged to attend English Club’s letter writing sessions. At these sessions, students are encouraged to share with the club new information they’ve exchanged with their pen pal.
Kansas-Gunma Elementary Diary Exchange
Location: Takasaki-shi, Gunma
Kaneko Elementary students will take pictures of a stuffed animal living the daily life of a Japanese student over the course of a month and write 1 to 2 sentences about each activity in a notebook. English is encouraged, but the ALT will help translate if necessary. Students will then send the stuffed animal and notebook (along with crafts such as origami and a picture of the class) to Blessed Sacrament Elementary in the US. The US students will keep the stuffed animal and notebook, but reciprocate by taking pictures with an American purchased stuffed animal and writing about the daily life of an American student. The US students will enclose the stuffed animal, notebook, and a class picture in a prepaid box and send it back to Kaneko Elementary School. Kaneko students will discuss differences and similarities and prepare a bulletin board about the project for the whole school.
US Study Abroad Scholarship / Festival by Shimane AJET
Location: Masuda-shi, Shimane-ken
JETs from Shimane Prefecture will host a festival with the intent of fundraising/advertising to send students to study in the United States. The festival will feature various performances that showcase the diversity of the United States, such as hula/Tahitian dancing to represent the people of Polynesian descent. Additionally, JETs will cook and provide traditional American dishes, such as macaroni and cheese, gumbo, steak and cheese sandwiches, etc., as well as hold a bake sale. Throughout the evening, speakers who have been abroad will relate their experiences, and attendees will be able to speak directly with these people. Subsequently, all proceeds/donations from the event will go towards (at a later date) finding and interviewing interested students from 7th through 10th grade, and working with them to find and provide funding for a study-abroad opportunity in the United States.
Free Scholarship Money for International Education in the U.S.
Location: Kita-ku, Tokyo
“Who knew it would be so hard to give money away for study abroad scholarships!”
According to Mya Fisher, the Director of Education of the US-Japan Council, it’s extremely difficult to correctly translate what scholarships and loans are for Japanese students and parents. The goal of this event is to educate Japanese students and their parents about receiving scholarship money and the difference between a scholarship in a load. The word 給付型奨学金 was specifically included in the project title because the word for scholarship in Japanese, 奨学金, can also mean loan. With interchangeable definitions, Japanese students and parents are hesitant to accept potential scholarships and full-funding. Furthermore, Fisher explains that many students fear that if they requested more financial aid, the likelihood of being accepted into a program and likelihood of receiving the scholarship would decrease. This event will focus on fixing this terminology issue. To do so, the JET will plan to give their students a bag of chocolate coins with a leaflet inside detailing the differences between scholarships and loans. They will also inform my students of the multiple scholarships they can apply to.
24th Annual 2017 Tokushima AJET English Musical “TokuSing: Tokushima’s Got Talent”
Location: Katsuura Town, Tokushima-ken
For the past 23 years, volunteer JET participants in Tokushima, in collaboration with local overseas and Japanese residents, have put on an English musical. The musical targets primary to secondary school students in Tokushima and, in recent years, has garnered a total audience of approximately 800 people between multiple showings. This year’s musical will be based on the American musical comedy film, SING!, and adapted to suit a local Tokushima setting and story. The musical will primarily use simple English in the dialogue and song numbers, but will also include some narration in Japanese. The musical will be performed at five different venues across the prefecture in order to reach as many viewers as possible. The musical will not profit Tokushima AJET or any other associated institutions and entrance will be free of charge.
The Hiroshima Scholarship Fund
Location: Kure, Hiroshima
A committee of 7 JETs representing the Hiroshima JET community annually finance one local student’s study abroad program costs (up to ¥250,000). Beyond the benefits to the student who goes abroad, all applicants experience applying for the scholarship in English, including several short answer questions and a statement of purpose. All suitable applicants are invited to interview before a panel of 3-5 native English speakers. Interviews are exclusively in English and last between 15 and 30 minutes. The committee promotes learning English and studying in the US, as well as US culture and other types of exchange by creating a tangible opportunity in every school with a JET for any student, regardless of financial means, to study abroad. Interest in US culture, as well as Art, Sports, and Music exchange is sparked by this opportunity (for example, one of last year’s finalists intended to pursue a ballet exchange).
Tools to Facilitate Learning and Self-Evaluation at Yoshino JHS
Location: Yoshino-cho, Nara
The JET along with two JTEs will organize an after school study group focused on improving student’s speaking fluency and listening comprehension of native English. It will be made available to all students, but will ultimately target the 32 second year students (8th grade) who will take the Eiken exam (Levels 5 through Pre2) this January along with other younger students who have taken or attempted the exams and are likely to either retest or test for a higher level. Audio recording devices will be purchased and lent to the students either in pairs or class by class to use for in class and at home English activities. These devices will be used for schoolwork, preparation for the Eiken test, in broadening American cultural exposure beyond the textbook content, but more importantly in positive self reflection with regards to improvement in practical English.
Location: Inamachi, Saitama
Speech camp is a one day camp where other ALTs (about 10) volunteer to assist third year students (about 86) with their speeches. It is theme centered, so ALTs will dress according to the theme (Disney, Anime characters, etc). The students are divided into classes with the ALTs to learn better tips on presenting their speeches. These are divided into two workshops. At the end of the workshops, students will do a small speech contest within their groups. The winner will then compete against those from other groups in front of the third years and judges. The 1-3rd place winners will be presented with a prize for their speeches.
2nd Annual American Day
Location: Kyotango City, Kyoto
A group of three U.S. JETS and Amino High School JTEs will put on an all-day American culture event for approximately 20 students. We will play American games and activities while practicing speaking and listening in English. The main focus is cooperative activities in order to establish good bonds between the students and native English speakers.
Cultural Exchange Meet & Greet Day
Location: Yaukuhashi, Fukuoka
A group of Japanese and foreign English teachers will organize an international exchange day where approximately 189 junior high school students will meet U.S. citizens living in Japan, as well as Japanese citizens who have spent time residing in the U.S. Students will interview the guests about their countries and/or experiences abroad, and present information about Japanese culture and their local community using English. Students will also participate in other activities, such as playing games, craft making, and an international tea party with the guests.
An English Library in Mugi
Location: Mugi Town, Tokushima
This project aims to expose the students to more English language content and increase English retention. English language books, comics, movies and CDs will be available for students to borrow and teachers to utilize in the classroom. Tablets will be provided for the school to use exclusively to promote English learning and cultural exchange. English media will be used in classes and books will be used for reading comprehension assignments, along with the option for students and teachers to borrow and use for leisure. Picture books regarding American holidays will be available for use at elementary and nursery school. Although based at the junior high school, the variety in books and media make them flexible for use with lower grade levels as well. To initially introduce the items in the library the bulletin board in the English classroom will feature the library contents and explain how to borrow items.
English Immersion: Providing Authentic Reading Opportunities
Location: Ikuno, Hygo
Appealing to the micro-grant’s purpose of ‘promoting English education,’ the project goal is two-fold; the first goal being to create an accessible English reading library appropriate for the Ikuno Junior High School student English reading ability and the second goal being to create a book report system to monitor and guide students through readings. The books will be selected primarily for suitability to student reading level and also for varied book content. Student progress will be tracked on a poster with stickers representing milestone achievements commensurate with grade level. Students will read books and stories that exhibit varied backgrounds and content including plots about strong female leads characters as well as minorities and people with disabilities.
Starting a Student Newspaper at Kurume Nishi HS
Location: Higahikureme-shi, Tokyo
With this grant, the ALT will establish a press club at Kurume Nishi High School. This club will produce a print and/or online newspaper approximately once a semester. Students will be able to contribute to the extent that is possible for them and try out various jobs, such as editing, designing, or taking photos.
In addition to sections written in Japanese, this newspaper will contain a substantial English/international section in which students publish short pieces written in English, including reviews of foreign films, write-ups of expat events in Tokyo, creative writing, op-eds, etc. The JET teacher’s role would be to teach reporting, interviewing, and writing skills in English, and to teach print design. They will also help copy edit the English section. With additional funding, they will take students on excursions to visit English-language publications in Tokyo, such as Timeout Tokyo or the Japan Times.
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