For 1st and 3rd grade students at Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School, an exciting time to experience Japanese culture will be theirs just by coming to school this year. On Tuesday, November 11, these adventurers will begin their partnership with Chieko Iwata, the coordinator of Mississippi State University’s Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI). She will spend the next two years in the United States raising awareness of Japanese culture in our community.
With the groundbreaking on West Point’s Yokohama Tire Manufacturing in 2013, Iwata stressed the importance of having the two cultures become familiar with each other’s traditions and etiquette “particularly business manners if you are interested in working together in business.”
Over the next two years, Cook students will have bi-monthly classes with Iwata on such subjects as calligraphy, origami, tea ceremonies and kimono ceremonies. These, along with lessons about Japanese art, dance, drama and music, will fit nicely with Cook’s fine arts magnet theme but also with the Common Core’s focus on interdisciplinary communication.
The JOI grant was written by JuYoung Lee, a lecturer with MSU’s School of Human Sciences, in partnership with the Laurasian Institution and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. Iwata is one of 10 JOI coordinators in the United States at this time; and MSU is the third site in Mississippi to have hosted the program.
It’s important to Iwata to introduce modern Japan to Mississippi, in addition to their traditional culture, including anime, manga, popular fashion and music. “I want to help students and their families discover everything that interests them about Japan.”
Cook’s arts integration facilitator, Heather Rowland, adds, “How many of us had the opportunity to interact with someone from a different country and learn a new language in elementary school? I am just as excited as our students are to begin, and I feel so honored that our school has been included in this partnership.”
Call the school for more information.