Students dive into Japanese language and culture

Photo of William Edwards enjoyings dinner with a Japanese family during his home stay.
Photo of William Edwards enjoyings dinner with a Japanese family during his home stay.
William Edwards enjoys dinner with a Japanese family during his home stay. (Image provided.)

The Clemson Language Immersion Program celebrated its 20th year of offering students a blend of classroom instruction and cultural activities in the local community. This year’s Japanese program, conducted on campus from May 12 to June 14 under the direction of Toshiko Kishimoto, immersed students for seven hours a day in the target language. Each student took a pledge to use only Japanese for the entire five weeks.

Program activities included field trips, guest speakers, and special art lessons from a certified Japanese calligrapher. During a field trip to Atlanta the group visited the Japanese Governmental Offices, the Japanese division of KPMG (an international audit, tax and advisory firm) and the Atlanta Zoo where each student was paired with a native speaker. This year, the group was honored with an invitation to lunch at the Consul General’s official residence, where they enjoyed an authentic Japanese meal.

photo of students practicing calligraphy
River Brooks and William Edwards learn a type of calligraphy used in painting. (Image provided.)

A favorite activity was Skype communication with Japanese college students in Japan several times each week. The highlight of the program was a home stay at local Japanese families’ homes. Each student was assigned to a Japanese expatriate’s home (all who work for Upstate South Carolina Japanese firms) where they spent one night and two days joining the families in their daily activities.  Student Dalton Randall found the home stay “one of the hardest yet most exciting things of the program.” He noted that “this social focus makes CLIP a very strong supplement to my traditional classes as it encourages thinking much faster and improvising rather than the planning and preparation one can do for classes.”

The students concluded the program with a party to celebrate their hard work and to say thank you to the Japanese community for its support.  Reflecting upon the five-week immersion program, William Edwards noted that it offered “invaluable experiences that brought the Japanese culture into our curriculum” in a way that allowed students to participate fully in another culture without traveling abroad.