Change Your Viewpoint
It’s amazing how much you can learn about something when you look at it from different angles. Through its three phases, New Perspectives: Japan (NP:J) goes beyond a typical study abroad program, allowing middle level and high school students and their teachers to launch or expand their study of Japanese language and culture.
Phase One: Choose Your Focus
The first phase begins with the group selecting a study theme, ranging from an introduction to Japan to Japanese history, economics, or heritage, and from art, architecture, and cuisine to contemporary society and more. Once chosen, the teacher spends several months guiding students through orientation materials related to the theme, including lessons geared toward preparing the group for the next phase—travel to Japan!
Phase Two: Shift Your Focus
The two-week summertime visit brings to life what students have been exploring in the classroom for the past few months. Complete immersion in the Japanese culture includes carefully planned study days in the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto; a full week of living with a host family, including an exchange with a local school; and participation in traditional Japanese pursuits, such as paper making. Although this is the shortest phase of the program, the experience will last a lifetime!
Phase Three: Stay Focused
The program doesn’t end once you return to the United States. The final stage helps participants process and give greater meaning to the experience. Follow-up activities allow students to reflect on all of their experiences, discuss how their perspective of Japan has evolved, and share what they’ve learned—continuing to ignite the flame of discovery with others.
The Teacher’s Impact
It is teachers that make this experience stand out from traditional study abroad programs. Through all three phases of the program, teachers are critical to ensuring students develop their understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture. A guide, a mentor, a cheerleader—teachers are all of these because they know how their students learn best and keep them engaged.
“It’s a small world.” This phrase rings truer each day as our global village continues to shrink. Stepping outside our physical borders is crucial to increasing our understanding and acceptance of other cultures. NP:J provides a full-circle approach to learning about Japanese culture without the need to be fluent in the language. Students broaden their horizons while building self-confidence and independence.