India - Makiko Ikeda (June 2008-April 2009)

Country of dispatch: India
Dispatch period: June 2008-April 2009
Name: Makiko Ikeda

Photo of Makiko Ikeda with students at  Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce & Industry

    I was sent to the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Chennai in southeast India. Students ranged from junior and senior high school students and college students to housewives, company employees and retired individuals in their 60s, and included those who simply had an interest in the Japanese language to those who wanted to use it in business. All the students were very motivated.

    My role included training local Japanese-language teachers, teaching students, preparing students for speech contests and introducing Japanese culture. Except for a teaching practicum at college and technical college, I did not have any teaching experience and worried if I would be able to instruct teachers. However, I decided to teach local teachers after learning that they had no opportunity to be exposed to the real Japanese language and of their eagerness. They let me teach freely through trial and error, based on my ideas about what is necessary for Japanese teachers and local teachers' requests and opinions about class. When local teachers made a suggestion, at first I felt pressured because my ideas on teaching seemed to be rejected. However, reactions to my teaching improved incredibly when I changed my style. Receiving and accepting straightforward opinions -- from such an exchange, mutual trust was established, and I was able to learn and grow.

    India is very different from Japan in terms of climate, food, language and culture, and I encountered some difficulties until I became accustomed to them. However, through exchanges with Japanese teachers and students at the institution where I was sent as well as with other local people, I came to know the warmth, generosity and fun-loving and accepting nature of the Indian people, and I came to love Chennai. Being able to have exchanges with Indians on a level different from that of traveling or business was a truly valuable experience.

    I am grateful to The Japan Foundation, its New Delhi office, the Chennai Consulate-General of Japan and the people at the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce & Industry for getting me through my 10-month stay. I hope that many more people will have this wonderful opportunity.

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