Education and Student Life

No.26: Becoming a person who “expresses” social issues

4th Year, School of Education
Nanae Iwanaga
<Graduated from Chikushi Jogakuen Senior High School>

“HU Student Voices” gives our prospective students an insight into the perspectives of HU students. As the 26th interview in this series, we talked to Nanae Iwanaga, 4th year student in the School of Education.

Ms. Iwanaga entered the School of Education in hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. Whilst deepening her basic and specialty knowledge in education, she thrives in an extracurricular environment; being the leader of the student volunteer group OPERATION Tsunagari.

Ms. Iwanaga, I see you are from Fukuoka.

Yes. I attended Chikushi Jogakuen Senior High School in Fukuoka prefecture. Actually, since I was in junior high school, I knew I wanted to go to Hiroshima University.

Wow! Your dream since junior high school! You were thinking about university from such early times?

My school was an integrated school with both junior high school and senior high school, so in my case, I had no senior high school entrance examination. Instead of that, since junior high school times, my friends and Iwould talk about which university we would want to go to. When I told my teacher that I want to become an elementary school teacher, my teacher said, “Well if we’re talking education, it’s definitely Hiroshima University”. Since then, I got interested in Hiroshima University and started collecting some information.

Was there a reason why you wanted to become an elementary school teacher instead of high school or junior high school?

I was greatly influenced by my 5th elementary grade teacher, who was very full of personality. This teacher often talked to us about the many failures and frustrations he/she faced, and I remember wanting to learn more and more from this teacher. Of course, I was blessed with many great teachers in junior high school and high school as well, but I think the impact I had then was the greatest.

Furthermore, I am the type of person who gets interested in many things. I thought it’s probably fit for me to teach not only one subject but many, and so I chose an elementary school teacher.

Ms. Iwanaga reflecting her former teacher with smile

When entering Hiroshima University, what were you most attracted to?

The campus atmosphere. It was large and the greens were so beautiful, it feels as if you came to a huge garden. Honestly, when I came to the campus for the first time, I thought “It’s a little too country”, but I decided to comprehend things in a more positive manner, by thinking “cool American universities must be like this”. (Haha) After that, I visited a few other universities, but I felt I would want to spend my next 4 years at Hiroshima University.

Also, I was attracted to the variety of schools. I was worried I would maybe start to have a small perspective in life, if I just keep in touch with people having the same goals and ambitions. That was why I wanted to go to a university with a lot of students and schools. Hiroshima University was a place that fulfilled my goals to “learn professional knowledge, and meet many people”.

Please tell us your entrance examination times. What were some hardships you faced?

I struggled in the secondary examination’s English; especially free writing. English itself was not that hard because I had been putting effort in it since first and second grade in high school, but I was not used to writing long sentences in English, so I started putting extra effort in it since the summer of my third grade. I looked at the past exam questions and Hiroshima University’s trial exams, and had my teachers correct it over and over again. In the beginning, the best I could do was write one looking at a dictionary. However, after learning to pay attention to “write in a general perspective”, and remembering many useful English phrases using text books, my confidence developed.

You were studying by learning what Hiroshima University wants! Were you studying other subjects accordingly as well?

No. I am not so good at creating small schedules. (Haha) I was not very fit for the studying style of doing all the subjects little by little, because my concentration didn’t last. That is why, I simply just decided “Today is English day”, “Tomorrow is Japanese History.” I didn’t forget about youthful activities as well, by putting some passion in the Sports day’s cheerleading squad. My class does not have many students studying in humanities, and there were no other students who were striving to go to Hiroshima University, so I was able to study at my own pace; without anybody distractions.

Please tell us about the stories after you entered Hiroshima University. Were you able to spend a campus life you had imagined?

It went above and beyond! I was able to meet many people inside and outside of the campus, and learn many things. In my elementary teaching course, you will automatically be separated into 6 different seminars. In each seminar, there are about 30 people. It’s just like a high school class, and we are very harmonious. I think normally in other universities, you make friends after joining a circle, but in my case I just naturally developed more and more friends. People who want to become elementary school teachers are often “meddling (in a good way)” and “extroverted”, so that could be the reason.

Also, currently I am living with 10 other international students in the Hiroshima International Plaza. As a residence assistant, I communicate with them to create a comfortable environment, and my job is to support them. Not only inside of the campus, but even after have I gone home, I enjoy a global environment.

The “World Cooking Party” held with the residential international students

When we hear School of Education, we image the students going to teaching practice experiences, but did you experience that?

Yes. I went to a teaching practice in Hiroshima University Elementary School Mihara for 5 weeks from September to October on my 3rd year. For the elementary teaching practice, you do all the subjects -Japanese, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Home Economics, Art, Music, Physical Education, Moral Education, Secondary Language Education, Comprehensive leaning activities, and other special activities. I tried my best to create a lecture that students would feel interested in, but as there were so many subjects, it was so tough during the teaching practice that sometimes I wanted to cry.

Ms. Iwanaga observing her file and textbook she used in teaching practice

Are there any scenes of lectures that have stayed with you?

Yes, I think I really worked hard in social studies, because I myself did not really like it. (Haha) I tried to be creative in the “Freedom and People’s Rights Movement” lecture. Instead of showing the entire picture, I showed some parts little by little, or acting like a historical figure. I tried my best to bring out the students questions such as “What is this?” or “What does this mean?” My instructor praised me saying that it was a good lecture, so I especially remember this experience.

The textbooks she used in her lecture. Ms. Iwanaga said that she thought about the timings and ways of expressions when creating her lecture.

Ms. Iwanaga, you had been active outside of school, being the leader of the student volunteer group OPERATION Tsunagari right? Please tell us about your activities there.

In the beginning, I did not have that much of a strong feeling to “work hard for other people”. My senior who was close to me was a member of OPERATION Tsunagari, so I joined in thoughts of starting a new challenge.

I experienced volunteering of reconstruction in Miyagi, Tochigi, and Kumamoto prefecture. I did things like making appointments of people living in temporary housing, holding meet ups, and asking people “Are there any things that are troubling you?” Also, when the Hiroshima Landslides occurred, I managed the volunteer center with request from the Social Welfare Council. Furthermore, besides the reconstruction support, we held some events.

A scene from the debriefing session held at the Kanuma Disaster Volunteer Center, Tochigi

For example, what kind of events?

A workshop held for Japanese students and international students to think about peace, a session held to exchange opinions about “War and Peace” with an A-bomb survivor, a collaboration event with JICA(Japan International Corporation Industry) for Hiroshima University students to feel more close to overseas countries, etc. Currently, we are discussing an event to connect students to local residents and businesses in Higashi-Hiroshima.

Ms. Iwanaga running a workshop to think about “Peace”

In this workshop, they wrote down their opinions in a sheet of paper, and had a discussion.

A shot from the summer festival held at the Shitami area where the Higashi-Hiroshima Campus is located

You have such an ability to take action! You are really reliable. Did you organically like to plan things?

Not really. It’s only since after I entered university that I became so active. After trying one thing, I felt “Wow it’s doable!” Of course, it’s only with the help of my surroundings, but it’s really fun to plan, move, and as a result connect with people. Also, I strongly felt the importance of working as a team. I thought universities are a place where you greedily research alone, but lectures, seminars, and extracurricular activities will not hold with only one person. I started to understand that we are working as a team.

Have you decided your future after university?

Yes, I have gotten a job as a director in NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation). Since I had been striving to become an elementary school teacher all my life, it took me a while to decide my future. As I continued lectures and circle activities, my interest in social issues had become stronger and stronger. Therefore, I went back to the starting point, and reconsidered with a perspective in “what is the kind of job that can relate to social issues?”. I realized there are many approaches to this, such as “becoming a person who actually solves many social issues” or “becoming a person who educates people about the solutions”. In the end, my answer was “becoming a person who expresses the social issues”.

Lastly, please give us a message to the future Hiroshima University Students!

In high school, I thought “I really wanted to become a teacher!” As I entered university, the more I learned about education the more I became hooked, and my admiration towards teachers became stronger. However, in reality I chose a path that was not one. As a university student, there is enough time to think about “Is this really okay?” “Are there any other choices?” University life is a string of new meetings and discoveries. Please utilize these chances, and find the answer to become the person you really want to be.

July 20, 2016
Reports and Photograph: Public Relations Group (i, K)
Location: la place (Mermaid Café Hiroshima University)