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January 28, 2013

ULM student teachers travel to Japan, calling it “opportunity of a lifetime”

Four University of Louisiana at Monroe elementary education majors pursuing degrees in curriculum and instruction are studying abroad for five weeks at Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan.

“These four students have chosen a path less traveled and one that is far more challenging,” said Dr. Sandra Lemoine, dean of College of Education and Human Development.

“Their bravery and diligence will benefit them tremendously in their future careers and life choices.  I could not be more proud of them and we are looking forward to returning this kind of support as our college welcomes students from Ehime University to the U.S. to experience our school systems.”

Echo Sutterfield of West Monroe, Sabre Masters of Monroe, Molly Plauche of Pineville, and Jennifer Bernard of Natchez, Miss., made the 23-hour journey to Matsuyama, Japan on Jan. 12, eager to fulfill a portion of their classroom teaching requirements in the Japanese school system. 

The students anticipate gaining new insights by becoming world travelers and studying abroad, but also devoting their time learning new perspectives on teaching and classroom environments by working with a Japanese teacher in his/her classroom.

The ability to study abroad for the students is both a cultural and professional learning experience.

One of the students, Masters, communicated her thoughts via an e-mail from Japan.

She said her ULM education prepared her for this experience.

“I was so honored to be chosen. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. It has been thrilling to experience the Japanese school system and see first-hand the similarities and differences between the Japanese school system and American school system. I can honestly say that my ULM education has prepared me for an opportunity such as this.”

While in Japan, the ULM students will develop their classroom lessons under the guidance of a Japanese teacher.

To add to the challenge, the students will have to prepare their lessons in English while knowing that the majority of children are not fluent in English.

By utilizing ULM’s “English as a Second Language” instruction and techniques, the ULM students will develop creative and dynamic solutions to carry out their lessons and communicate with the students.

Plauche, who also shared her sentiments via an e-mail while still in Japan, is using her ULM education to strengthen her teaching ability in Japan.

“This has been one of the best experiences of my life,” said Plauche.

“I love Japan and all of the rich culture it has to offer. I have learned so much so far and can’t wait to see what else is in store for me here. ULM has prepared me very well for this experience. I am able to use all the information I learned in my professional block classes at ULM at Shiomi Elementary in Japan.”

Dr. Dorothy C. Schween, head of Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership at ULM, will observe the students as they teach in their Japanese classrooms.

All four students will return to the U.S. on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

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