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September 26, 2012

ULM student studies teaching methods in Japan

After learning that the University of Louisiana at Monroe had partnered with Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan to provide cultural exchange opportunities, ULM junior elementary education major, Anna Calhoun of West Monroe, decided to embrace a unique opportunity and study abroad in Japan.

Calhoun realized many of her ULM friends and fellow student-teachers were studying abroad and accepting internships. As an elementary education major, Calhoun realized an opportunity with Ehime University was one that was not only rare, but once in a lifetime.

“I think it is very important for students to study abroad,” said Calhoun. “This was my first time out of the United States, so for me it is fascinating just to see how another culture works. It makes me appreciate things in my country more, along with realizing things we could improve upon.”

Calhoun’s trip was organized by former CEHD Associate Dean, Dr. Thilla Sivakumaran, and Associate Professor of Education at Ehime University, Dr. Eiji Tomida.

While in Japan, Calhoun visited different types of elementary schools. She observed and documented student habits, school rules, and teaching methods of the school’s faculty.

“I went to different elementary schools every day just to observe the types of schools they had,” said Calhoun. “I observed things teachers were doing that really worked with the students.  I also learned so many things about education that I know will help me when I become an elementary teacher.  I think it is important for people to learn as much as they can to help prepare them for their future careers.”

According to Calhoun, students were involved in daily school cleanings, recycling, and beautification efforts, including sweeping, dusting, and litter pick up.

When asked what captivated her most about her experience in Japan, Calhoun noted pride and responsibility.

“I was so impressed with how organized the schools were, and how responsible the students were,” said Calhoun. “I think having a school-wide clean up time is a great way to instill responsibility in the students. It helps the students respect their school more and feel proud about the work they are doing to keep their school looking nice.”

Calhoun was also able to view many of the sights and historical destinations in Matsuyama.

“I was able to do some sightseeing, which included going to an old castle, visiting the famous Dogo hot springs, visiting the Hiroshima memorial, and going to a small tourist island, which is one of the top things tourists should do while in Japan.  I also enjoyed eating different Japanese food with the Ehime education students each evening.”

Although her experience was new and somewhat frightening, Calhoun credits Dr. Leonard Clark for helping her make her decision.

“Studying abroad affords students the opportunity to learn what cannot be taught in a typical classroom and enriches their lives for an eternity,” said Clark, current associate dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

Calhoun said, “I am so glad I went. I have learned so much not only about the Japanese culture and education, but about myself.”

For more about the College of Education and Human Development study abroad opportunities, visit

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