24 undergraduate first-grade students took part in the 16th START Program * for a period of two weeks from March 14 to March 31, 2014. Led by Associate Professor Aiko Morita (Graduate School of Education), Professor Hajime Nishitani (Graduate School of Social Sciences) and another faculty member, the students were dispatched to the University of Auckland located in Auckland, New Zealand.
This time, the students were accepted by the Faculty of Education of the University of Auckland. They were divided into 3 groups and took lessons almost every day mainly on English vocabulary, expressions, pronunciation and grammar with three teachers in charge. The students practiced what they had learned by having conversations with their host families and by listening to the regular lectures. Attending lectures on education and history of New Zealand, which were prepared especially for them by teachers of the Faculty of Education of the Auckland University, the students learned the importance of asking questions and stating their opinions. Even students who felt some hesitation and embarrassment became more and more active and began to express their opinions. Furthermore, they took regular classes on the City Campus of the University of Auckland together with its local students and could experience the authentic atmosphere of studying abroad. The English lessons customized to a local audience were very difficult for them. However, they were impressed to see the local students studying diligently and hard, and some even said that they should learn from the local students. On the last day, each group held a presentation in English about a topic on New Zealand. Although they had almost no time for preparation, they showed a brilliant team work and fully took advantage of their activeness and English ability they gained within their two weeks stay. The presentation was good enough to impress even the teachers of the University of Auckland. The students also made a presentation on Japanese culture at an elementary school. As they already had thoroughly prepared for that in Japan, the presentation made the pupils very happy and also the HU students were glad to have an opportunity to practice speaking English and to learn how to make a presentation. On weekend, they visited forests and beaches in the western part of Auckland. On weekdays, as extracurricular activities, they visited a dormant volcano, a museum and a historical village which is known for having the appearance of the pioneer days, and had the opportunity to experience the vast wilderness, the history of immigration and the culture of New Zealand. They also learned about the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. In this way, the participants could expand their knowledge on New Zealand from various angles.
It was the first time that HU students were sent to New Zealand through the START program. One of the features of this program was that each of the participants lived in different families’ homes during their stay in New Zealand. Each student went to school by public bus and after school, communicated in English with their host families. In their free time, they either went shopping or were lucky enough to be taken for a sightseeing trip. In the beginning, the students felt some hesitation and embarrassment, but as soon as their English improved, they felt more confident and became more active.
The students had a fulfilling time and they completed the whole program without illness or injury. In light of their precious experiences, the participants made positive remarks such as: “I lost my awareness of the things that I am bad at in English.”, “In future I would like to look abroad and to challenge myself to new things.”, “I want to study more about Japan.” etc.
* The START Program provides first year students who have little overseas experience the opportunity to attend lectures and see everyday life at a foreign partner university in order to raise interest in international/cross-cultural activities and studying abroad. It was established in 2010 and by the end of the 2013, it has already been held 15 times. This was the 16th time the program was held. The Hiroshima University Fund financially supports part of the research expenses to lessen students’ economic burden and to give a broader population of students the opportunity of studying abroad. The participants went to study abroad after a two-month training period with 6 lectures/presentations and 7 study meetings (held only by students) before departure. Back in Japan, they had a follow-up session.
Attending regular lectures at the host university
Introducing Japanese culture at an elementary school
In front of the Clock Tower, the symbol of the University
Singing a song at the completion ceremony
International Exchange Group,
Education and International Office,
(* Please replace (AT) with @)