SG course Overseas Fieldwork 2016

The Purpose of SG course Overseas Fieldwork
  One of the purposes is to make investigations into the theme of research being done by the students.  Another is to deepen their research by gaining global perspective through presentations to students from Princeton University and Princeton High School.
In addition, it is aimed at improving communication skills in English throughout the activity, fostering students who can play an active part in the international community by acquiring the viewpoints and ways of thinking which are necessary for international people.
10/3(Monday) [transfer to NY]
10/4(Tuesday) [training in Manhattan]
・lecture from staff of the United Nations ・lecture from Mitsui Estate in America
・Wall Street walking tour
10/5(Wednesday) [Princeton H.S./homestay]
・class in P.H.S ・presentation of their research
10/6(Thursday) [Princeton University/homestay] 
・Princeton University campus tour ・presentation to Princeton University students who major in Japanese (Japanese language)
10/7(Friday) [Princeton H.S./Ithaca]
・class in P.H.S ・Japanese language class
10/8(Saturday) [Ithaca/Newark]
・lecture in Eco Village ・volunteer activity
・lunch and interaction with residents ・exchanging opinions about their research
・interacting with Ms. Minami Yusui
10/9(Sunday) [transfer to Japan]
10/10(Monday) [return]

Contents and Fruit
(1)The Lecture by UN Staff ( the 1st day, October 4th, in New York)
They had a lecture by UN staff, Yoko Maruta, about how they can eliminate the discrimination against women, how they can improve the social position of women, and how equality between men and women changes the way of “richness and community.”

[the participants’ comments]
*I was surprised to learn that in some religious nations, it’s rather natural to set men and women apart and people there never want complete equality.  We need to keep in mind that absolute equality doesn’t necessarily make communities rich.
*I understand further that problems related to religion are hard to tackle, such as Muslim hijabs.  We, unrelated to such issues, don’t know whether they do things at will or by force.  We must take actions against the discrimination but at the same time we mustn’t disturb the freedom of religion.  I want to do things actively such as learning foreign languages, collecting information, and taking part in volunteer work, which the presenter Yoko told us we can do from now.

[Fruit of this event]
For students whose research themes aren’t related to the lecture, it was not only an opportunity to get new knowledge and a new point of view but also an opportunity to get a hint for their research by realizing the importance of seeing things from several aspects.  It seemed that a lot of students were inspired to settle social problems, interacting with Yoko, who was actually handling global problems.

(2)Visiting a Japan’s Overseas Enterprise(the 1st day, October 4th, in New York)
They listened to the lecture presented by Mitsui Fudosan in English: in the lecture, the presenter told us about one of building-attesting systems, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), how to make affluent society, and attempt to spread the concept of green building.  They had a question-and-answer session and exchanged opinions.
[the participants’ comments]
*We learned that this enterprise tries to be eco-friendly, but in the U.S. there was a lot of garbage on the streets.  I thought citizens have to be conscious of environmental problems.
*It was difficult for me to understand the lecture because it was in English, but trying to catch what they said was a very meaningful experience.  And, learning that there are concrete goals and ranking of buildings in LEED, I thought it is important to make a concrete investigation in our research.

Many students felt the lecture was difficult to understand, because it was the first one which was presented in English after arriving in the U.S. and its content was specialized.  However, they tried to grasp what was said with using all of their skills.  After the visit, they said they wanted to challenge other programs in this study tour.  They started actively learning English after they hardly understood the lecture in UNU in March, and they felt their efforts bore fruit.  And, they tried to gain information which would be useful for their research.

(3)Princeton High School (the 2nd day – the 4th day, Oct 5th-7th)
*In Princeton High School, which has connections with our school, they gave presentations and discussed their projects in English with PHS students.
*They stayed with the PHS students’ families and took classes with them to learn cultural and educational differences between Japan and America and broaden their horizons.

[the participants’ comments]
*The biggest difference was positivity.  American students raise their hands whenever they have their own opinions.  They are much more proactive than Japanese students.  After our presentation, I heard their opinion and noticed the different opinions among us.  Particularly, one student who can speak 5 languages was interested in our research.  He taught me the importance of our theme.  It was difficult for me to convey our idea in the English presentation and I could hardly make myself understood. I want to improve both presentation skills and the contents. 
*I spoke to my host family when eating supper.  I had active conversations and asked them to repeat what I couldn’t understand.  I was able to explain an overview of Japanese culture, but was not able to explain details of it.

A lot of students understood American culture and noticed that it is important for them to communicate with foreigners,when they exchanged their opinions with Princeton students and stayed with their host families. They realized that they should work harder to learn English and communicate with foreigners more.  It is certain that many students tried to be active to learn something new and break out of their shells.

(4)Princeton University (the 3rd day, Oct. 6th)
*The students gave presentations about their research and had discussions with Princeton University students and teachers in English.
*They visited Princeton University, which is the fourth oldest in America and from which two Presidents graduated.  They were taken on a tour around the university and learned how students in America live at college.
*They interacted with students in Princeton University and enjoyed talking about their own future.

[the participants’ comments]
*It was meaningful for me to have a discussion with students there. All of the university students listened to our presentation and gave us good advice in English. I have to learn from them because they had firm opinions and told them to us clearly. 
*Many students thought a problem of the gap of GNH(Gross National Happiness) between urban areas and rural areas has arisen not only in Japan but also in other countries such as the U.S.  Not surprisingly, many of them regarded their safety as the most important issue. We thought that those who live in urban areas did not communicate a lot with others.  However, they thought even though people both in urban areas and rural areas communicated with others, the type of communication was very different.  This outlook was very novel for us.

They were able to get a lot of opinions and advice about their research from the students there.  In addition, this experience was a chance for students to learn from university students and think about their own future.

(5)Eco-village Ithaca (the 5th day, Oct. 8th, in Ithaca)
*The students introduced Japanese culture to the local people in English.
*They mingled with the local people in Ithaca, who keep harmony with nature and practice making communities where people are aiming at sustainable life.  The students discussed their research themes with the local people.

[the participants’ comments]
*The local people thought earnestly about our research theme so we had substantial discussions.  Based on their abundant experience, they gave suggestions we had never thought of.  Their ideas are useful for our research.  There were many questions and answers not only from us but also from them, so our discussions warmed up.  They were very interested in values of Japanese people, for example, labor or marriage, and listened carefully to what we said.  I was really sorry I couldn’t express my own opinion about the topics very well.  It is necessary for me to learn English harder and to be more interested in society.
*Some people moving to Ithaca said they came to Ithaca to look for a social relationship, which seems lacking nowadays.  I found that there is a problem of a lack of community both in Japan and in the U.S.  The scale of each living area is not large, and there is a meeting place there.  In such an environment, it is easier to communicate with one another.  I hope to live in such a community in the future.

   The students visited three different communities; first in an urban area, then in the suburbs, and finally Ithaca, the eco village.  They went through various communities and thought about what wealth was.  It was a good chance for them to consider what is really important.  They seemed to gain a new viewpoint about their research by exchanging opinions with adults.  It is surprising that the students hardly refer to their English skills.  It proves that they have improved their command of English to such an extent that they aren’t aware of it.

Comments of the Overseas Fieldwork on the Whole
[the participants’ comments]
〇Investigations for research themes and consideration from international point of view
*When I give a presentation, I always need to have my own opinion.  Therefore, I understand it is important to think about problems carefully and be interested in various problems in society.  In this study tour, I discussed various topics so I wanted to know more things.

〇Improvement of communication in English 
*Before this fieldwork, I was worried about communication with people in America and being rejected by the difference of culture.  However, I managed to communicate with people in America to some extent so I was confident.

〇Acquisition of global outlook and perspective and training in defiant mind
*I understand that expressing my own opinion in discussions or places of exchange means demonstrating not only the meaning of my existence but also my own sense of value.  I understand that it is important to assert my own opinion in order to understand things more.  Therefore, I want to assert my own opinion positively.

[Fruit of the Overseas Fieldwork]

The main purpose of studying abroad was to make an investigation of their extracurricular studies overseas and to reconsider their theme from a global perspective. As each group exchanged opinions, they discovered that many ideas they thought were true were not.  In that sense, it seems that there is no doubt that it was a good opportunity to assess their values relatively and deepen their understanding of different cultures.

As the students put themselves in a situation inevitably requiring communication in English, it can be said that their practical English ability has improved steadily.  At the beginning of the program, they had to be prepared because the professional lecture in English by a Japanese company was very difficult.  There were many situations in which they had to communicate in English with high school students, college students, and their host family members.  As they got accustomed to the situation, they decided to use English, even though their English lacked correctness.  As a result, they became confident in English communication.  On the comment sheet the students didn’t write about problems of their English.  This means that the students had little difficulty using English as a communication tool

Finally, through this Overseas Fieldwork, the students’ views have apparently become wider, and they have become keenly aware of the narrowness of the world that they had seen.  It seems that this has led to the motivation to learn more.  In addition, there seem to have been many students who felt how wonderful it was to take up a challenge by meeting various role models in this tour.

It is certain that having this kind of experience in their sensitive teens tends to increase motivation for learning afterwards and to be ambitious for opening up a path for the future.