In November, we welcomed Katsura Sunshine, a rakugo performer. Rakugo translates to “fallen words,” a form of Japanese verbal entertainment. Rakugo is a 400-year-old tradition of comic storytelling in Japan. Sunshine is a professional rakugo performer and originally from Canada. He has delivered performances in English and in French all over the world. This performance was a great way for students of Japanese language and culture to experience a sense of Japanese humor, here in Pullman. The DFLC welcomed Sunshine with a small breakfast reception. He conducted a seminar in the afternoon where students and faculty came to hear about his journey to becoming a rakugo performer. Later, he performed in Daggy Hall, attracting a large audience of all ages.
The DFLC has partnered with the WSU International Center in hosting Language Tables. These tables meet once a week and are hosted by some of the DFLC professors. Instructor Reho Abo hosts the Japanese table. This is a great opportunity for students to expand their language-learning skills and practice their Japanese communication skills outside of the classroom. The Japanese language table meets for an hour every week and averages about ten Japanese students. Some of the topics covered are cultural differences, experiences in Japan, food, subculture, folk tales, famous places, and much more. This is a great networking environment where students can exchange information related to Japanese culture and share experiences in Japan. The Japanese language table plans to expand to include cultural activities like traditional games, calligraphy, and cooking. The Japanese section is hoping to invite Japanese influencers from the community for more events.
The Japanese Student Association (JSA) is a brand-new Registered Student Organization (RSO) on campus, dedicated to cultural outreach and education. JSA welcomes people of every background, striving to make all feel welcome at its meetings and bi-weekly conversation table. Meetings are conducted in English, with the conversation table being reserved for Japanese. For this next semester, the JSA is planning to expand to more events. The first one on the list is a screening of the Japanese film, Hafu, a documentary focusing on the lives of Japanese citizens of two ethnicities, and their lives and unique hardships growing up in an ethnically homogenous culture. Following the screening, there will be a Japanese-American student panel discussing those same difficulties in a pluralized culture of the United States. The event will close out with a presentation by the WSU Office of Equal Opportunity about resources for individuals facing discrimination on campus. The date and time, as well as location, will be released along with other event details as they are finalized in the upcoming weeks. Involvement in this RSO is a great way for Japanese students in our department to expand their experience and learning about Japanese culture.
Gina Simmons is a junior studying pre-nursing. Gina is minoring in Japanese.
Why are you taking language classes?
I am taking language classes to brush up on my Japanese and possibly use it in my professional career.
How do you think your language skills will help you after WSU?
My language skills will help me be able to use Japanese in my daily life, whether I’m in Japan or not.
What advice would you offer to others who are interested in learning a foreign language but nervous about doing so?
I would advise students to practice learning the language little by little every day as much as possible, even if students don’t feel confident in reading, writing, or speaking. Professors and tutors are always here to help in making sure they get what they need in order to improve.