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NISVA volunteer Yoshihara: Teaching returnees to the Philippines [2008/02/13]

The Yoshiharas

With support from The Nippon Foundation, Keiko Yoshihara (61), a senior-citizen volunteer with the Nippon Skilled Volunteers Association (NISVA), has since this past October been teaching Japanese to Filipino returnees in the city of Davao. Davao is the second-largest city in the Philippines and the scene of a revival of a local community of persons of Japanese descent, which broke down after the end of World War II.

Ms. Yoshihara originally worked as an educator, teaching mathematics and home economics at elementary and junior-high schools in Ibaraki Prefecture. The year after her husband Fumio (73) was dispatched to Jordan as a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) senior-citizen volunteer in the spring of 2004, she retired early to be at her husband’s side. While assisting at a supplemental school for Japanese children during a one-year stay in Jordan’s capital city of Amman, she had the idea of volunteering on her own. She applied and was accepted to join NISVA at the end of 2006. Her appointment began this past October.

Today, her duties at the Philippine Nikkei-Jin Kai International School, operated by the Davao Japanese Association, include both instructing local Japanese teachers and counseling second-generation Japanese-Filipinos who have returned from Japan with their mothers and speak only Japanese.

Ms. Yoshihara says, “The children are all bright and cheerful, and none of them are truant, which is pervasive at Japanese schools. It is rewarding teaching them, and I interact with them mostly to provide emotional support. This is an easy place to live, with a nice climate and an abundance of fresh fruit.” Her husband quips with a laugh, “Now that I’m a full-time homemaker, compared with Jordan and Davao, it’s Japan that seems unusual. Maybe it’s because people there study too hard in juku cram schools.” For now, Ms. Yoshihara plans to serve for one year in this appointment, while Mr. Yoshihara says he will return to Japan before the New Year, as he currently has only a two-month visa for the Philippines.

This year, NISVA has dispatched a total of 18 senior-citizen volunteers overseas. Ms. Yoshihara is one of the two volunteers who teaches Japanese.

Davao developed before the war with the production of Manila hemp. The city was home to the largest population of Japanese in Southeast Asia, numbering 20,000 people. However, the area’s ethnic Japanese community dissolved after the war. The Japanese Association was reestablished in 1980, and today its membership totals 6,400. Nearly one-half of its membership, mostly third- and fourth-generation people of Japanese descent, work in Japan, and the number of “new second-generation” people, born to one Japanese parent and one Filipino parent, is rapidly growing. The entire town is growing enthusiastic about learning Japanese, and so there is now a pressing need for Japanese-language teachers. (Photo:The bustling city of Davao)
Posted by TNF at 13:40 | Human Resources Development | URL