Education, Culture and Identity Among the Minorities Course Annual Report (2019)

University of Wisconsin La CrosseUWL→ Kagoshima UniversityKU

From January 14th to January 21st, 2020, students from University of Wisconsin La Crosse came to Kagoshima University to participate in the US-Kagoshima-Asia Triad program’s Education, Culture and Identity among the Minorities Course.

Their program is outlined as follows:

Date Day Activity
1 14 January Tuesday

Arrive in Kagoshima

Welcome & Lunch at Kagoshima University

Campus Tour

Welcome Party

2 15 January Wednesday Board the KU Nansei-Maru training vessel to go to Takeshima Island.

Arrive at Takeshima/ Walking Island Tour by Takeshima Elementary School Students

American Style BBW dinner / Djembe African drum session

3 16 January Thursday Takeshima Island tour by car

Field work visiting elementary school classes and junior high school classes

Farewell / board Nansei-maru ship to go back to Kagoshima

4 17 January Friday Field work: Visit Mishimamura Kagoshima Office and meet the village Mayor, Oyama Tatsuo

Visit Meizan Elementary School

5 18 January Saturday Sushi making course

Meet and Greet Host Families

Overnight Homestay

6 19 January Sunday Return from Homestay
7 20 January Monday Chiran Peace Museum

Chiran Samurai Village

Shochu Brewery Tour

8 21 January Tuesday Preparation for Final Presentation

COIL Class (summary and discussion)

Final Presentation



Welcome to Kagoshima University Briefing

UWL Students and Professor Heather Linville were welcomed and KU Global Center Chief Professor Unedaya and ‘US-Kagoshima-Asia Triad Program’ Manager Professor Nakatani.

UWL and KU Education, Culture and Identity Among the Minorities COIL Class students at welcome and briefing session.


Visit to Takeshima Island

Along with the inhabited islands of Iōjima and Kuroshima, Takeshima belongs to Mishimamura (or Mishima Village). Takeshima is a long and narrow island with a very small population. The residents depend on agriculture, fisheries and seasonal tourism for their livelihood. Although small in size and population, the island maintains an elementary school, and this is the main reason that the UWL students visited the Takeshima.To reach Takeshima island, UWL & KU students and staff boarded the KU Faculty of Fisheries training vessel ‘Nansei-maru’. Upon arriving at Takeshima island’s port, we were welcomed to port by all the students and teachers of the local elementary school who sang and played their African Djembe drums.

After the greetings and welcome address at the port, students were divided into smaller groups and were taken on a walking tour of the island by the Takeshima elementary school students. Various points of interests (Shinto shrines, bamboo shoot factory, the original port of Takeshima etc.) as well information about nature, wildlife and life on Takeshima, were explained in English by our student guides. After the island walking tour, KU and UWL students and staff gathered at Takeshima Elementary School Hall where the school kids were waiting with their Djembe drums ready to teach eager us how to play. It was a really good time for UWL and KU students to get acquainted with the children in an informal setting. Meanwhile, the teachers and also Nansei-maru crew were busy preparing an American style BBQ with the main meal being genuine American Hamburgers. Before eating however there was a circle Djembe class with all students joining in to learn a traditional song from start to finish. After dinner, the KU/UWL students returned to the Nansei-maru to sleep for the first time on-board a small ship docked on the harbor.

The following morning at 7:00 am, KU/UWL students and staff were picked up by two teachers from Takeshima school and taken to the island’s main cow farm and shed. Here we learned that raising cattle brings important money to the economy of Takeshima. The next stop was a beautiful clifftop view of Iōjima island in the distance. After the car tour of the island, we returned to Takeshima Elementary School to observe how classes are taught at this school. It was interesting to learn that most of the students at the school are not Takeshima born. Most come from bigger towns like Kagoshima City, or other prefectures such as Kumamoto etc. These students are known as ‘sea breeze’ students. Children of different ages are mixed in the same class since class numbers are quite low. We were permitted to observe and English class and Japanese class in progress. It was a real eye-opener for UWL students who are going to be teachers in the future. They have never seen such a class conducted in this way. After the morning classes finished, there was chance for the students to have a cultural exchange with UWL and KU students by giving a presentation about themselves and their lives, African Djembe connection to Takeshima, as well as their future ambitions. It also turned into a great Q&A session and exchange in English for everyone.

Everyone was really touched and moved by this visit to Takeshima. It fulfilled the COIL objectives of the course by having a first-hand experience of education issues facing young students who have some form of difficulties in adjusting to school life or facing some learning issues. UWL students later found out that Djembe drums go back 25 years with Djembe drum teacher bringing it to the island from Guinea. The mayor of Mishima Village later explained to UWL students that djembe has a very important role to play in education on the island. As most of the ‘sea breeze’ students have some form of learning difficulties or problems with social interaction, it was discovered that playing djembe drums gave those students a ‘voice’ to express themselves through music and rhythm.

Visit to Mishima Village Office in Kagoshima

After the field trip to Takeshima, the UWL students visited the Mishima Village Office in Kagoshima city. There they were greeted and welcomed by Mishima Village’s mayor, Mr. Oyama Tatsuo. It was such an informative meeting with the students and mayor engaging in  an open discussion touching on subjects including: the current challenges of Mishima Village;  focus on island settlement and incentives for people to come and make a sea-change; the importance of keeping the schools open on the islands; and how djembe drumming is a form of therapy for the ‘sea-breeze’ students of the school (students coming from outside of Mishima).Currently there are 25 sea-breeze students studying with the 4 schools in the three islands with a goal of having at least 30 ‘sea-breeze’ students from 2020 onwards.

Students learned that in order to bring new settlers into Mishima, it is important that there will be work available for them, and that there be adequate housing for them to move into. People with skills in Livestock grazing / Animal Husbandry / Fisheries / Nursing and looking to start a new business in Mishima Village are sought after.From this April, they will teach Geoscience as one of the main subjects at school in Mishima. Since Mishima is part of an active volcanic chain of islands it is the only place where one can learn this both at school and on site.

Mayor Oyama says that although Mishima Village is a small chain of islands, he would like to make it well known in the world!

UWL students and Professor Sumie Nakatani (KU) pose with Professors Heather Linville
(UWL) and Mishima Village Mayor Oyama holding the gifts they had exchanged

Meizan Elementary School (MES)

KU & UWL COIL class was mainly focused on the themes of: Identifying influences of globalization on education / Japanese educational issues from a global perspective / compare and contrast educational issues faced by migrants in US and Japan / Analyze the role of education in building a multicultural society etc.

Meizan Elementary School located in the center of Kagoshima City has implemented a Japanese Language Class to help children from different foreign backgrounds enrolled in surrounding schools to learn intensive Japanese language catch up to their classmates and be able to attend Japanese elementary grade classes. At MES there are a total of 23 students from different background studying Japanese language for foreign students. 13 are elementary students and 9 are junior High School grade students. Except for 4 elementary students the rest of the students (19) come from surrounding elementary and junior high schools. It is an ideal place to study and observe how such a school deals with their multicultural community.

After arriving, there was a briefing session in the morning and the KU &UWL students were divided into two groups. Each group were rotated visiting Japanese language class and a music class in progress (see photos below).

UWL and KU Students observe Japanese language class for children with a foreign background
UWL and KU Students and Professor Heather Linville observe a music class at MES


After this, there was lunch break followed by free time with the getting to know the children in the playground. KU and UWL students were warmly welcomed by children of all grades and ages in the playground. MES students really did their best to chat to our American guests in English! Both UWL and KU students were in high demand from the children.

Abby Stellmacher (UWL) talks to elementary school children at Meizan Elementary School (MES)

The KU and UWL students participated in a Q&A session with the MES Japanese language teachers and they were very surprised to find out that foreign languages are not used to help teach Japanese. The Japanese language is taught using only Japanese. Sometimes, very rarely will the teachers use any words in the students’ mother language. This is very different from the way English is taught in the United States where teachers would use translation tools to help teach English. This encourages everyone to speak Japanese quickly.

We then met with the Principal of MES and gave a formal thank you from both the KU student representative and Professor Sumie Nakatani, the UWL student representative and Professor Heather Linville.

KU and UWL team pose in front of Meizan Elementary School entrance


Sushi Making Course

Sushi Madoka is a sushi train chain restaurant in Kagoshima. At its Frespo store, they offer a Make your own sushi / sushi chef experience. UWL and KU students took part in learning how to make sushi and afterwards eating the sushi they made for lunch. The students were also joined by one of the homestay host (Ms. Fukuzaki) from Ibusuki city.

After making the sushi the all 7 UWL students and 1 KU student waited for their respective host families to come and pick them up for their overnight homestay experience with a Japanese family.



Prior to the UWL students joining the COIL class on Education, Culture and Identity, Kagoshima University’s ‘US-Kagoshima-Asia Triad in a Multi-Polar World’ project office established a ‘Host Family Bank’ of which members from the community have volunteered to host the UWL students for one night to give them an authentic experience living with a Japanese family.

As much as possible we tried to match each student to a host family to ensure suitability. The UWL students were looking forward to staying with a real Japanese family and didn’t know what to expect. Below are just a small sample of some of the activities that their host families had been so kind to give each of them.


Here are some student’s impressions of their homestay:

Student Voice 1: “Staying with a host family provided such a unique opportunity, and I am so thankful I got to wear a Kimono, learn traditional Japanese dance, went to a shrine, learned Kendo, and experiences a hot spring! I will never forget my trip to Japan, and I am so thankful for everyone who helped make this possible!” (Lindsey Strzyzewski – UWL)


Student Voice 2: “My name is Colm Alba, my host family was the Asamatsu family. Yoshitake and Toshiko …. they were super super nice. They were incredibly incredibly nice to me. Toshiko is an extremely good cook, so she made all the greatest cuisine and food in the world! Yoshitake is really into American pop-culture so we talked a lot about Star Wars, and we watched Transformers together, it was actually pretty cool. All in all, I had a great time and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.” (Colm Alba – UWL)


Student Voice 3: I will never forget the host family experience. I could write 7 novels on how I lucked out with THE BEST second family ever. They were so sweet and kind and welcoming to me from the second they picked me up. Getting to wear a traditional kimono, doing calligraphy, origami, having my family facetime my host family, and visiting the most beautiful shrine i’ve ever seen with the Arima family are all unforgettable experiences i will tell my kids someday.” (Ally Gesteland – UWL)

From left to right: Veronica Eilers, Lindsey Strzyzewski and Emma Hedding enjoy a kimono experience from their host family.
Colm Alba pictured with his host family mother at the Mt Sakurajima observatory


Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots / Chiran Samurai Residence and Garden / Satsuma Musou Shouchu Factory

UWL and KU students took part in a field trip to Chiran.

The first stop was the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots (Chiran Tokkō-Heiwa-Kaikan), which has one of the most comprehensive exhibits of personal possessions and letters from deceased soldiers who fought for Japan during the final moments of World War II.

UWL students were surprised to learn that some of the Japanese Imperial Army Tokkō pilots were even younger than them when they died. It was a touching and moving experience for all. Everyone agreed that the museum is very important in showing the sacrifice and tragic loss of young lives so that we may never allow such incidents to be repeated. UWL student, Colm Alba is specializing in History Education and Social Science and he found the historically important information to be useful for his World War II history teaching plan.

UWL and KU students pose in front of the entrance to the Chiran Peace Museum since photography is not allowed inside the peace museum

After a wonderful traditional Japanese lunch, the students took a walking tour of the famous Chiran samurai residence and gardens. For most of the UWL students it was their first time abroad, and all of them have never been to Japan. To come and experience walking though a real preserved samurai village was totally impressive to them.

One student was surprised to find out that the same families have lived in these house

from the Edo period until now!

UWL and KU Students enjoy a ‘Sansai Takikomi Teishoku’ lunch at Chiran Paradise Restaurant
Group photo on bridge over the Fumoto River in Chiran
On the way back to Kagoshima University, we stopped at Satsuma Musou Shochu Factory to learn how traditional Kagoshima Shochu is made.


COIL Class summary and final presentation

The Education, Culture and Identity Among the Minorities course was conducted using COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) classes. KU in collaboration with UWL used both Mediasite (video recording and storage) and the CANVAS course management system to post comments and create discussion groups.

KU class members were each given an iPad to use for creating and editing video content for the course.

ZOOM meeting was also used by the professors from both KU and UWL to plan and coordinate classes.

The table below sets out the lesson plan for the course.




Orientation: What is COIL? Topics to be learned, class outcome, requirements, evaluation, how to edit a video.





COIL Ice Breaking: Watching UWL introduction video-flips and make comments on CANVAS. Think about a relevant response to each of the videos and then introduce yourself by preparing video-flips with a self-introduction, including family background and educational background.





Watching introduction videos by UWL students and make discussions in Japanese about the difference in educational background. Then hear a lecture by KU Professor about increasing numbers of non-native Japanese children and educational issues among the minorities in Japan.





Educational Issues in Japan: Japanese Students’ Group Presentation (English and Contents check).





Educational Issues in the US: Hearing the comments of UWL students about educational issues in Japan as a response to KU videos. Viewing US presentations about educational issues in the US.





Comparison between US and Japan: Group discussion and analysis to compare educational issues in US and Japan. Based on analysis, decide a topic for online group discussion with UWL students.


7 Online group discussion in English about their findings based on comparison between US and Japan.






Special Talk by Tsukada Tomomi “Support for foreign residents in Kagoshima”





Lecture: Ethnic / Regional Culture and Identity in France (in Japanese)





Special Talk by Yue Horinouchi “Technical Intern Trainee System and situation in Kagoshima”




Drafting of the students’ project on Education, Culture and Identity among the Minorities and presenting in English (video) to UWL side. Comment session






Global teaching plan presentation video by UWL team





Collaborative workshop with UWL students





Collaborative workshop with UWL students





COIL Summary

Due to the time difference between the US and Japan we could not make the COIL synchronous learning. In order to facilitate the COIL classes, KU used Mediasite servers to upload both KU and UWL student created videos. The UWL team was given access to KU Mediasite servers. Once a student or group creates a video, the video is then uploaded to the Mediasite server and a link is generated. The link to the video is then posted on UWL’s CANVAS course management system for ‘on demand’ viewing by students. Students from KU would watch UWL videos and share their thoughts and feedback by leaving comments on the CANVAS discussion under each video, and UWL students would do the same for the KU videos they watch.


Below is a flowchart for the COIL class implementation:

At the end of the field work, KU and UWL students working in groups, summarized what they learned from their field work in Takeshima and created a poster to present to Takeshima Elementary School students as well as the mayor of Mishima Village.

The UWL group then made a group presentation via PowerPoint slide summarizing everything that they learned in the COIL class lectures, videos, and from their field work to Takeshima Island, Meizan Elementary School and Chiran Peace Museum. Individual UWL students also presented an outline of their individual educational study plans and how it is relevant to what they learned in this COIL class.


Finally, here are some of the students’ impression of the COIL course & Education, Culture and Identity Among the Minorities Inter-University Exchange between KU and UWL.


Student Voice 4: Thank you so much to everyone from Kagoshima University and UW La Crosse for making this trip possible! This was a once in a life time opportunity for me, and it was the most amazing 10 days of my life. Everyone we met in Japan was so welcoming and kind which definitely made my first time traveling abroad a lot easier than I thought it would be! I learned a lot about Japan, the culture, and the school system. Once again, thank you so much to everyone who made this trip possible and I can’t wait to visit Japan and Kagoshima again in the future!” (Emma Hedding –UWL)


Student Voice 5: I can’t even begin to put into words how amazing our experience was in Kagoshima. This trip and collaboration with Kagoshima University was an amazing opportunity filled with new friendships, experiences, and places. I feel so lucky to have been able to learn about Japanese culture and connect with the people and students of Kagoshima. Not only were our activities and research exciting and interesting, but the people here were so kind and welcoming. We have made so many new friends and have learned so much from this study abroad program. Many thanks to all of the students, professors, and faculty who made this trip possible!” (Veronica Eilers – UWL)


Student Voice 6: Honestly, I am beyond grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to study in Kagoshima. The people, the places, and the experiences I had while in Japan were amazing and I will forever be thankful for it. I think one of my favorite parts, which is really hard to choose because it all was amazing, was the trip to Takeshima Island. The sights were amazing but so were the people, the students, and the school. This was my first trip abroad and everyone was so nice and welcoming which helped me as I went through it all. I would not change anything that happened on the trip. Thank you again Kagoshima University and all the staff that helped us during the trip and the members who planned it!” (Kambrie Haas – UWL)


Student Voice 7: I am still so thankful for the opportunity I had to go to Kagoshima and meet all these wonderful people!! We had such a great time getting to go to Takeshima island, going to different schools and experiencing Kagoshima University. We met so many amazing people along the way. I didn’t know what to expect going into this trip, but I was blown away by how much I learned and how much fun I had. I can’t thank everyone enough for making this such a wonderful experience and I hope to be back some day!! (Abby Stellmacher – UWL)




From the educator’s point of view, the US-Kagoshima-Asia Triad Program’s Education, Culture and Identity Among the Minorities Course inter-university provided the opportunity for KU and UWL COIL class participants to meet and work together in person. Besides achieving all the COIL class objectives, the inter-cultural exchange experience was life-changing for most of the UWL students.


It was also valuable learning experience for all the educators and support staff.