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T&T teachers hope to bridge cultural gap on Japanese trip
Six brave Caribbean teachers are off to Japan for the next year as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching programme (JET). On Thursday, the Japanese Embassy held a cocktail reception to send off the participants from T&T at the residence of the Japanese ambassador Yoshimasa Tezuka at Maxwell-Phillip in St Clair.
Giselle Williams, Alexis Kinch (Barbados), Tsai Ann Quan Kep, Kavita Premchand and Runako Thornhill have the honour of representing the Caribbean region. This is the tenth time teachers from T&T are taking part in the programme. They left for Japan yesterday.
The trip by the T&T teachers comes against the background of the events that followed the devastating earthquake and tsunami off the Pacific coast of Tohoku where a magnitude 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan in March 2011. Ambassador Tezuka on Thursday assured the participants that they had nothing to fear and urged them to use the opportunity to truly absorb the Japanese experience while sharing their culture.
“As you know, on March 11 last year a great earthquake hit the north-east area of Japan. After one year, as the pictures show, Japan returned to its daily normal life except for the restricted area. So you can go to Japan without any worries,” he said. He added that the Trinidadians in the programme may feel right at home as Japan shares their love for our national instrument.
“I would like to introduce one unknown anecdote. Among the Asian countries, the presence of the steelpan is strongest in Japan. If you research “Steelpan Japan” on Google, you can find many Web sites and videos. We even have a steelpan factory in Japan,” he said. Tezuka, who recently became ambassador, said he was eager to create even deeper links between this country and Japan.
“I arrived here five months ago. I was assigned seven postings abroad, but this is my first experience in this region. My impression is that the people of each country have a good impression of each other, but they do not know very much about each other. Therefore, I hope that you will serve as a bridge between the two countries,” he said.
Giselle Williams who was chosen to speak on behalf of the participants said she was happy to be given the opportunity to learn about Japanese culture. “The general conception is that we are both brave and crazy. To me it speaks to the fact that the Japanese culture is still relatively unknown in Trinidad, often mistaken for other Asian cultures with which we are more familiar,” she said.
Williams said she was looking forward to sharing in the great work ethic that the Japanese have become known for all over the world. “Japan is a country full of smiling faces, respect for others and a love of life. Understanding the benefits of hard work, the Japanese take a pride in getting the job done and in doing it properly,” she said.
She said she hoped that the Caribbean JETS would make a positive contribution to the people of Japan. “We also hope to be able to positively impact the futures of the children we teach, offering them not only language skills but also a global outlook and appreciation of different cultures and places,” she said.
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