Intercultural Communication Center (ICC)Waseda University

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Participant Report: “Interact and feel part of a community” ICC Language & Culture Exchange program experience

Agomoni Sarkar
Graduate School of Sport Sciences

I have been participating in ICC events and the Language and Cultural Exchange Program for the past two and half years. The LCE program helps connect Japanese and international students to practice their target language. Students may be grouped in pairs or threes. I signed up for this because I study in an English-based program at Waseda so I don’t have much of an opportunity to interact with Japanese students.

Last semester, I was paired with two Japanese girls, a sophomore from the Tokorozawa campus and a senior from the Nishi-Waseda Campus. Although it was difficult to find common free time, we scheduled an hour each week on Zoom and maintained a LINE chat group. The Zoom meeting conversations were held primarily in English, interspersed with Japanese. However, the LINE group conversations were a mix of Japanese and English. 

Since the three of us were from completely different fields (engineering, human sciences, and sport sciences), often we had some interesting academic discussions on our respective research areas and thesis topics. Sometimes we ventured into discussions about the similarities and differences between Indian and Japanese cultures, resulting in some surprising discoveries. 

In our Zoom meetings, we enjoyed talking about our week and recent news, especially the Japanese government’s decisions regarding the COVID-19 countermeasures. We also shared quite a few photographs of places we’ve visited and the food we’ve eaten/cooked on the LINE group. My partners sometimes helped me with my Japanese writing and speaking classes, by going through what I prepared and modifying my grammar or vocabulary whenever I sounded “weird” or unnatural. I think I benefited immensely from their help.

We tried to plan an in-person meeting but it didn’t work out as one of our group members lives in Nagoya with her parents. Having spent many hours together, it would have been nice to be able to meet at least once in the semester. I sincerely hope we can keep in touch. 

As an international student who wants to stay long-term in Japan, I feel that it is important to understand the Japanese culture and practice speaking Japanese as much as possible. Since we haven’t been to campus in over a year, the level of interaction with Japanese speakers has reduced quite considerably. This program allows us to interact and feel part of a community even when we’re working/studying from home. I think all international students should try to sign up for this exchange program. 

Place

明治神宮

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