On June 8th, 2016, Yokohama City University’s exchange students presented their self-made videos during a public screening, in a class led by Japanese Language lecturer Mayumi Yabe. The exchange students came from various countries, including Austria, Italy, South Korea and China – but upon watching their videos, one cannot deny that their level of Japanese is near, if not excellent. As part of their Japanese language curriculum, the students were asked to create videos, with narrations in Japanese, regarding a topic of their liking.
Aside from the exchange students, the screening was attended by YCU’s local students, Ms. Yabe, and Prof. Okada of the International College of Arts and Sciences. Attendees were given handouts containing transcripts to the exchange students’ videos. Most of the videos’ themes centred on the students’ home countries, or their experiences since they have arrived in Japan for their exchange program. Food and drinks also seem to be rather popular topics amongst the students. Every video was very well-made, and had very intriguing themes, such as, “たび” (Journey), “人生の友達、コーヒー” (Coffee – Life’s Companion), “友情って何だろう？” (What is ‘friendship’?), and so forth. The videos have shown that, not only have these bright students learnt the Japanese language, they have also learnt a lot of Japanese culture, and the differences that exist between their homeland and Japan. Aside from cultural aspects, the students also discuss more universal themes and issues during the session. Also, they have not only shown a great deal of understanding, but an equal level of curiosity about cultural matters yet unknown.
Each presentation was followed by a Q&A session between the exchange students and the attendees. The Japanese students present have shown interest in the exchange students’ perspectives on mundane matters, and also in the differences between the norms in Japan and in other countries. Some of the students have even shown empathy upon learning how the exchange students feel about certain matters, such as that regarding the notion friendship. Overall, the public screening was definitely a success, and have helped bridge the cultural gap between both groups of students. The students have learnt a great deal from each other, and hopefully, they will continue to learn to celebrate the differences in their cultures, instead of view them as barriers.