9 months ago

Word TravELS 011 July - December 2017

ELS Student’s Voice

ELS Student’s Voice Sketches of Canada from a Gifu Perspective W hat will your impressions of Canada possibly be if you only get to spend 3 weeks in Edmonton? Essays by two students from Gifu University (Japan) might just give us a few ideas. We welcomed our first cohort of 29 students from Gifu University in August 2017. Two of the students wrote about their impressions of Canada after participating in their 3- week English Language and Cultural Seminar (ELCS). While the brevity of their stay in Edmonton might not have allowed the students a deeper look into Canada, their views are fresh and direct, which interestingly give us a glimpse of the students’ own country. We would like to thank both students, Ms. Erika Tachikawa and Ms. Ayane Hattori, for sharing their views with us. Here are their essays, unedited. “Our Society a Decade Later” by Erika Tachikawa, 1st year Nursing major T his summer, I participated in the English as Second Language program at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada) to improve my English skills. When I look back, I realized that I was blessed with plenty of opportunities to learn things besides taking English lessons there. Trudeau: “Diversity is our strength.” I was first introduced to this statement while participating in an ESL pre-departure class conducted at Gifu University. After arriving in Canada, the Prime Minister’s message truly drove home to my mind. What about Japan? Unfortunately, my experiences in Canada, my teacher’s accounts about Canada and free newspapers I got in Canada, all pointed out that Japanese society is indeed more than 10 years behind Upon arrival, what surprised me most was the country’s unique social systems and infrastructure that give free of barriers, and promotion of multicultural coex- Canada in terms of creating an all-inclusive society utmost considerations that showcase Canada’s ethnic istence. However, after I witnessed that the society I diversities. For instance, a rich variety of colors of in envision is already in place in Canada, i.e. the society women’s cosmetic foundation available at cosmetic that does not categorize people into certain groups stores, an image of woman wearing Hijab used for an based on prejudice, I made a fresh resolution to bring advertisement, dustbins for disposable syringes installed at public washrooms, assistive service for hear- my departure, I had little expectations about under- real changes to Japan for our better future. Prior to ing impaired installed at science museums, ATM accessibility for wheelchair users, even wedding cards simply to improve my English skills, but I would like to standing life in Canada because my initial goal was for same-sex couples!! At first, I was shocked by all of continue to keep my study-abroad experiences alive these, but on afterthought I was inspired by the fact by sharing what I have learned with as many people that no one is discriminated and isolated from society as possible. My hope is that by sharing my experiences with others, I can encourage many more like- based on their skin of colors, religions, ailments, disabilities and even sexual orientations. minded people to take proactive changes in reforming our society and the world in the foreseeable future. I was reminded anew of the public statement made by Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Justin Pierre James W o r d T r a v E L S | 24

“Showing Respect for Different Cultures” by Ayane Hattori, 1st year Education major I decided to study abroad setting my sights on studying different cultures in the world. In this respect, I believe studying in Canada served my interest well because Canada, just like the United States, is a country of immigrants where people of diverse ethnicities are living in harmony with one another. As a matter of fact, my host family was originally from Poland. I also made many friends at school and through In Canada, I learned that many people enjoy distinctive dietary habits, traditional lifestyles, even extraordinary ways of thinking handed down by families for generations, and I was greatly impressed when I saw Canadians accepting these differences as they are. Canadians generally show respect to others by considering each other’s words and actions even though they may be “out of the norm of society” as part of each individual’s unique ethnicity. My host family said to me: “Our family immigrated to Canada because everyone is treated equally here crossing the boundaries of race.” When I heard that comment, I thought such way of thinking may in fact help us rediscover a renewed sense of appreciation of our own countries. I also imagined what the world would become everyone on Earth shared this wonderful notion. Another discovery I made is that a lot of people I met in Canada speak English with strong accents. Before going to Canada, I thought all Canadians’ mother tongue is English and that everyone in Canada speaks perfect, standard English. Personally, I am not so good at speaking English and in many occasions, I found myself in difficult situations where I could not follow the conversations. However, I managed to communicate by means of gestures or speaking slowly. I also enjoyed singing and dancing with friends a lot. I once heard that music knows no national boundaries, and that was indeed true. my mutual friends, whose families were immigrants I am very fortunate to have many unusual yet invaluable experiences in Canada. By studying in Canada, my from India, Vietnam and Turkey, etc. The strange thing was that I happened to be asked for direction by a English has improved a lot, but more importantly, my person from Bangladesh on the street. staying in that country gave me a precious opportunity to contemplate who I am, what I want to do in the future, and how I want to live life. W o r d T r a v E L S | 25