#KDUJapanCulturation Fosters Cross-Culture Learning

KDU students warmly welcome the students from Tezukayama Gakuin University, Osaka, Japan. KDU student from the School of Hospitality Tourism and Culinary Arts, guiding the Japanese students in in the art of making curry puffs. 
The elected learning-buddies from KDU guiding their peer from Japan in an inclusion activity.  Mr Greg Rouault, Associate Professor of Department of English and Career Studies, Tezukayama Gakuin University, Osaka (centre) with his students Kana Morikawa (from left) and Katsuya Tamura.
In an increasingly globalised society, cross-culture learning has become imperatively necessary. Its benefits are plenty. Not only does it increase one’s confidence as they learn to interact with many kinds of people, and improve their communication skills, but it also fosters the interest of learning even more. Cross-culture learning also helps people find common grounds while appreciating diversity, learn empathy while widening their world view, and expose themselves to different learning styles and problem-solving techniques. Students in KDU University College and KDU College recently experienced all these aspects when they hosted 11 students from Tezukayama Gakuin University, Osaka, Japan, for three weeks.

The Tezukayama Gakuin University study abroad trip, which sought to equip its students with stronger English communication skills and better their intercultural understanding,  comprised of 4 male and 7 female students, together with Ms Mari Mizote, the accompanying counsellor.

According to Ms Mari Mizote, KDU University College was chosen as both institutions share a common education philosophy in preparing students for the real world, and KDU’s tagline of ‘Hit the Ground Running’ runs parallel to Tezukayama Gakuin University’s ideology in educating the next generation in Japan.

“We chose KDU following an introduction by the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board in Japan, and a visit to the KDU campus about one and a half years ago,” continued Mizote.
Mizote is also the Professor of Faculty of Human Sciences in Tezukayama Gakuin University. Academics from this faculty who were part of the entourage were Associate Professors from the Department of English and Career Studies, Ms Mutsumi Kondo and Mr Greg Rouault.

Echoing her colleague’s point of view, Kondo said, “Malaysia is a multicultural country, and we want our students to experience different ethnicities, so that they can be exposed and better their communication skills along the way. In fact, many organisations in Japan these days look for graduates who are proficient in the English language.”

“As English is not widely spoken in Japan, therefore, this study abroad programme with KDU is a very important part of the process,” said Rouault, a native Canadian who expanded his teaching career in Japan. “We see this as a bridge of driving motivation in learning English, as our four-year bachelor degree programme provides students with intensive amount of English study and also practical career English, which is related to future work place opportunities,” he further elaborated.

Named as #KDUJapanCulturation, the three-week programme, designed by KDU’s Student and Alumni Centre (SAC), English Language Centre (ELC) and also the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts (SHTCA), saw the guests participating in a variety of activities. The 11 Japanese students participated not only in formal English lessons, but also in radio production, news writing and theatre drama play writing workshops. Not only that, the Japanese entourage were given an introduction to the life and culture in Malaysia through sightseeing tours to Little India and China Town, National Museum, National Mosque, National Monument, Central Market and the famous Petronas Twin Towers in metropolis Kuala Lumpur.

The young guests from the land of the rising sun also sampled local cuisine through cooking classes, and immersed themselves in a kampong homestay experience in Seri Kayangan, Sabak Bernam with local foster families. They were also amazed with our local night markets, traditional games, sports, song and dance - experiences which made up a tremendously colourful exposure for them.

Sharing his experience of cross culture and language learning in Malaysia, Katsuya Tamura shared, “Our buddies in KDU have helped us very much as they try to speak slowly and clearly when communicating with us. Through these three weeks, I think the level of my English - listening, understanding and speaking have improved very much.” Tamura revealed that his ambition is to be a high school English teacher after graduating. 

As for Kana Morikawa, though she found herself having to adjust in using English as a first language and hearing it in different accents at the very beginning, she finally got used to it and was able to understand the lecturers and her newfound friends fully. “I dream to be a flight attendant. By learning English, I will be able to travel the world, communicating with others well and embracing different culture.”

Elected as the learning buddy for the Japanese guest students, William Tan Wei Liang, a third-year KDU Bachelor of Accounting student, took the lead in arranging activities to provide fun experiences beyond the classroom. Sharing his experience in mingling with the Japanese students, William recalled, “The Japanese students love Malaysian culture as much as we love their culture. We managed to learn about each other’s culture in this past few weeks. Communication between different languages was tough as there was a barrier, however we didn’t let that deter us from creating new friendships.”

He continued, “In my opinion, I would say that this whole experience has taught me to be more open to other people of different nationalities. It really does help to see the differences in each of us when we start to get to know each other. This inspires me to be more confident in myself to meet and make connections with foreigners. Hopefully, I will be able to inspire others to be more open and to be kind.”

Sharing her experience as an elected learning-buddy, Alyssa Chuah Syuen Lee, who is in her third year of the Keele B.A (Hons) in Business Management and Marketing (3+0) programme, said, “This experience inspired me to be more open towards other cultures and be more empathic towards their way of thinking. I think that this has improved my social skills and I hope that it will benefit me in the future.”

The three-week programme culminated in a grand finale dinner at the Saloma Theatre Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, with both visiting and host students concluding their unique and valuable learning experiences with warm hugs and cheers of joy.