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PIPPIN, Michael

pipin_pro.jpgPIPPIN, Michael
Enrolled in Short-term exchange program (JUSST) for 2009-Fall & 2010-Spring semesters.
From the university of Oklahoma, USA

What a Unique and Exciting Campus!!

The evening I came to UEC, it was dark and raining. The first thing I did was go to my room and flick on my light only to see cockroaches scatter behind stuff and I wasn't quite sure what to think. But, I soon came to realize that we actually have it fairly nice. Our rooms might be a little narrow, but having your own toilet, shower, and kitchen is nice. Plus, it's winter now, so all the roaches have gone away (for now).

*Editor's note: International House provides room occupants with insecticide for roaches upon their request.

I suppose overall, UEC is an alright place. It's only 15 minutes from Shinjuku and from there you can go just about anywhere. Plus, the cafeteria is much cheaper than at my university. The only downside is that it can be a little hard to join clubs and interact with the other students if your Japanese is not so good. And since most of the exchange students usually take the same classes together in English, it's kinda easy to become isolated from the rest of the campus if you're not outgoing. But mainly I'd like it if the exchange program would offer more than just engineering classes. There are some sports classes, but I wish that there were some covering Japanese history and culture as well.

Researching Children

At UEC, all exchange students are required to participate in some form of research and give a presentation over what they have done at the end of each semester. However, I don't belong to a typical research group, at least not in the sense that I do experiments in a lab.

Instead, I go to a nearby elementary school in Chofu and give presentations along with Jordan, from Australia, and another exchange student, Jorge, from Germany. We each come up with our own lessons and present them to students in a computer club of 4th through 6th graders. We're supposed to come up with some kind of task or activity for the children that somehow involves computers. But the main idea behind our research is the communication and interaction we experience with the children.

It may sound like we do nothing but play games with kids all day, but there's much more to it than that. Coming up with a lesson plan is difficult enough on its own, but presenting it in Japanese can be quite a challenge. You can write a script, but explaining something to children by reading from a paper doesn't always go over so well. Their attention spans and expectations are different from adults', which requires you to be flexible and able to explain things from their perspective.

However, I'd have to say that overall I think it's very fun and rewarding to spend time with the kids. It's kinda weird to think of myself as a teacher and no longer a student. It provided a new perspective for me and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who's interested.

pipin_kids.jpg

Created: June 21, 2010 / Last modified: November 19, 2012