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Adventure Awaits Graduate Student in Japan

by Connie K. Ho | November 21st, 2011

Blonde. Petite.  Musically inclined. French speaking. Japanese rock star. These phrases don’t normally mix. However, for University of California, Irvine (UCI) education graduate student Rebecca Mesch, they work and describe just a few of her characteristics. This past summer, Mesch was one of the interns for Guy Healy Japan, where she assisted in teaching English classes in Nagasaki and acted as a program evaluator for the English camps in different regions of Japan.

Mesch first became interested in the Japanese culture when she worked with Japanese exchange students through the Extension programs at UCI. She worked as a conversation partner and, in interacting with the students, it sparked an interest in Japanese culture. During her fourth year as an undergraduate, she took an introductory Japanese language course and continued her learning by enrolling in Japanese classes at a local community college. She was accepted to Guy Healy Japan after a general application process.

The program, Guy Healy Japan, focuses on creating lessons that are conversationally based. This differs from English taught in Japanese schools, where there is an emphasis on grammar. Mesch remembers distinctly one of the lessons that she taught while in Japan, where the interns created a sample conversation for students. The students then ran around the conversation, laughing, giggling, and utilizing the vocabulary they learned.

“They loved it, they were so engaged. We were running around with them and have conversation with them too. I saw their English improve from what they thought they could do because they were so happy and so engaged,” said Mesch. “It made me realize that if kids are really interested in what they’re doing and they have reason to be engaged in learning, they’ll do a lot better.”

Mesch has learned much from her experience abroad, such as the importance of politeness in Japanese culture as well as the focus on seafood in Japanese cuisine. With all this intercultural learning, connectivity was one of the major take home lessons for her.

“I learned that people aren’t as different as you think they’re going to be. If you grew up in Japan, you’re shaped by Japanese society and, if you grew up in the United States, you were shaped by American society,” commented Mesch. “But people are more the same than they are different, especially kids. But my experience has shown the importance of human connection.”

Photos via Rebecca Mesch

Rebecca Mesch is enrolled to receive her teaching credential from the University of California, Irvine. She has an interest in music education as well as English as a Second Language. She is knowledgeable in French and Japanese, having studied abroad in France and worked in Japan.

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