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To teach and to be taught

An experience with Brazilian students at SEBS – Sociedade Educacional Brazilian School – Minokamo, Gifu.

Every year the NFSA organize activities with Latin schools in Japan, that mostly, attend children whose parents are working as dekassegis. These schools follow a Brazilian or a Peruvian educational system and they aim to educate children as if they were in their country of origin.

However, reflecting the situation of the entire dekassegi community here in Japan, these schools have to deal with a lot of problems, such as the lack of specialized professionals and didactic materials.

Aware of this situation, the NFSA attempt to fill for some of their problems, organizing lectures and discussions that enlighten students about their future choices, professions and some themes chosen by students.

Since Haru no Kenshu, the first time that I heard about the school activities I thought it was a very good initiative and I was looking forward to participate.

This time the NFSA scholars formed groups to prepare activities for 3 schools. It was decides that our group: me (Melina Sakiyama – NFSA), Gustavo Kishimoto (NFSA), Hana Yamanaka (NFSA), Igor Inocima (NFSA), Akira Uchimura (Kaigai Nikkeijin Kyokai), and Takehiro Umemura (Nippon Zaidan) was going to the SEBS – Sociedade Educacional Brazilian School in Minokamo, a small city in Gifu prefecture that has a large Brazilian community.

After 4 hours in transit, we arrived in Minokamo at 9am to start the activity at 9:30am. In our way to SEBS, we could see a few Brazilian stores and restaurants, making us feel a bit more near Brazil.

When we arrive at SEBS, we were warmly welcomed by the Math teacher Jussara and the school principal Mariluce and soon entered in a classroom full of high school students.

I guess we were all very nervous, and Igor was very courageous to be the first one to talk.

He gave a very understanding lecture about his professional field, Information Technology, following him; presented the science of Biology and its professional applications. After me, Hana talked about her own experience of growing up in Japan and then returning to Brazil, and finally, Gustavo presented a shocking lecture about drug addiction and its consequences. Akira-san and Umemura-san were in charge of recording and taking photos of the activity.

After the lectures we could answer some questions from the students, and even though they were shy, a lot of questions came up and we were all happy that we could provide some more information, guidance and hope for then!

After the morning session we had lunch with the teachers, and they explained more about the students situation and the school system.

In the afternoon, we presented our lectures to junior high students, they were much shyer then the morning students, but during the discussion part, lots of questions came up as well.

During the intervals we had the opportunity to talk with the students separately and we could learn a lot about their perspectives and dreams. Also we had some tea and cake with the teachers and the principal, where we could learn about the situation of the Brazilians school during the economical crisis.

In the end, Patricia Yano, a graduate scholar from NFSA that develop her research using SEBS as the object of her master thesis, prepared a message for the students. It was a very touching moment, and we could see the respect that they showed for her and how nicely she had influenced the students.

Well, I think It is hard to express in words what this experience meant to me! As an educator myself, It is amazing to interact with students and try to see the world from their perspectives, particularly these students that have to deal with such difficult situation.

To be able to share their perspectives that day made a big difference for me! And I believe that the little that I could do for them will to open some doors for them! And this is what makes this experience so special!

* This was originaly published on The Nippon Foundation Nikkei Scholoars Association Blog.

© 2009 Melina Sakiyama

Brazilian school in Japan education nfsa The Nippon Foundation