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Asian Students Internet Exchange Program

1. Preface
Japan has had close relations with Asian countries throughout its history. There have been some attempts to promote mutual understanding, but not enough direct exchanges, resulting in creating one-sided images of each other. Now through the Internet and the international language, English, it is possible for high school students to have daily exchanges with each other. We want to support high school students so that they can positively take part in building up mutual understanding among Asian countries.

2. Purpose
(1) To have a cooperative class over the net to connect high schools in Asian countries and set up a network system where the students can communicate across the countries
(2) To promote the use of the Internet in the field of education in association with Asian universities
(3) To appreciate the cultures of other countries and learn from each other
(4) To discover what we should preserve in the process of drastic development by studying about countries in different stages of development
(5) To explore what can be done about problems in Japanese society and its economy from an Asian point of view
(6) To discuss the importance of English in exchanges among Asian countries
(7) To formulate and share opinions gained through the discussion with young people all over the world by means of the Internet
(8) To exchange information and opinions about the global environment
(9) To support the promotion of use of the Internet in high schools in Asian countries
(10) To invite students from Asian countries to Japan after extending a hand of friendship through Internet exchange

3. Seiryo Commercial High School as a Center of Exchange
(1) Seiryo Commercial High School

Seiryo Commercial H.S. has qualified as one of the 100 Project Schools by Education Ministry and International Trade and Industry Ministry and has a 64 K line. It has been working on international exchanges using electronic mail and Cu-SeeMe. This exchange has been covered by the television and press. The school keeps in touch on-line with schools in twelve countries such as America, China, Nepal, Taiwan, Korea, Canada and Australia. Now it is starting to have exchanges with Asian countries.

(2) Actual Method

Questionnaires ask about matters that are casual and easy to answer and stimulate interest and lead to cross-cultural understanding, not about politics or religion. Students will start thinking about the things they take for granted in order to tell their friends about themselves on the net. The following is an example of the exchange:

Question: What would you recommend as a souvenir from your hometown?
" Momiji cake "
"What is it?"
"It's Japanese traditional sweets."
"What are the ingredients?"
Other questions: How are visitors treated when they visit your home?
"Hot bath, meals, soybean soup..."
What is your favorite festival?
What are traditional musical instruments in your country?

4. Activities
(1) Nepal

We visited Nepal in the spring of 1996 to set up computers and install an Internet system. After several email exchanges, we visited again in August. In September, we invited people from Nepal for the off-line meeting.

(i) Schools in contact

Holy Garden High School: We took care of connecting the UUCP, offering two computers and the bill for the contact. We have regular email exchange.
Katmandu Uni High School: Emai exchange, making plans for more exchanges.

(ii) Internet environment in Nepal

Nepal is a country heavily dependent on tourism in the Himalayas. Its English education has been successful. Private schools, in particular, are doing a great job. Mastering English is essential to lead a good enough life. This means they are all ready to use the Internet, where English is the major means of communication. In the country, there is pay email service on a street for the tourists to use the net. The use of computer is highly evaluated but they can not afford to start using it on a regular basis. Monthly salary of a university professor is less than 20,000 yen. One computer cost as much as one Mercedes. I saw a DOS machine in a prestigious (private) university and that was the best they could afford. Electricity could go off anytime especially in countryside so they need a special machine to support the unstable electricity system. Generally speaking, most people are interested in Japan because Japan provides the most financial aid. They also admire Japan for having developed so quickly even though it is a country as small as their own.
(2) China

We are trying to find schools we can start exchanges with through China Japan Economic and Cultural Exchange Promoting Association in Nagoya. We are also planning to invite people from China to have an off-line meeting. We have been working on the following plans since the people in charge from China visited us.

(i) Schools in contact

Beijing Bai Yi Junior High School
We are getting some mail telling how they feel about the Japanese people and what the life in China is like. Occasionally we have TV telephone contact.

(ii) Internet environment in China

Network system is being improved starting with universities in Shanghai and Beijing. There are some restrictions on the students' use of their accounts. Some prestigious high schools in big cities have one computer for each school. Their exchange of information is controlled by the government.
(3) Thailand

We are looking for some schools which are interested in contacting with us through a local Internet provider and an American based association to support Thailand. One of the members of Schoolnet Japan visited Thailand and started contacting Suankularb Aittayalai School, which has 65K exclusive line. We are in process of setting up regular exchanges with the school. In the meantime, we have some contact with high school students who have their personal accounts.

(i) Communication with students in Thailand

(a) Name, age, hobby
Mr. T. K. ,17 ,soccer.
(b) Things that are valuable to me
Friends, soccer, music.
(c) What is popular among high school students in Japan?
Shopping, playing sports, listening to music.
(d) Survey on other countries' images(to Japan)
-What cities do you know about?
NARA, OSAKA, TOKYO, SAPPORO and so on.
-What foods do you know about?
Ramen, sushi, oden, bento, tempura, soba, sukiyaki, sashimi, taiyaki and sake.
-What historical people do you know about?
Shogun, Nobunaga.
(e) Do you know anything about the history of the other country? If so, what?
About Japan, I know about a very sad tragedy.
Back in World War II, Japan was destroyed by atomic bomb by Crazy USA. I am really sad about this. At that time, many people died immediately and many died after that bomb.
At Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am really sad about this event. I do not agree with what the USA did. I think it has many ways to stop the war. Peace is the best.
(f) If you visit another country, what will you buy for a souvenir ?
In Japan, I don't know about things at all. But if I had to choose, I would buy kimono.

(4)Korea

We took a research trip to Korea to contact the staff of Korea Central Press Internet In Education to talk about starting an exchange. They improved their Internet system in schools last year as a part of the reform in education. There is a project where 100 qualified schools receive a special budget for effective Internet use mainly supported by Joong Ang Libo, a leading newspaper company.

(i) Schools in contact

Seoul Girls Commercial High School
There is an email correspondence between staff in Seoul and Japan
(http://210.235.197.2/nepal/korea.htm)
(5) Philippines

We visited the Philippines twice and did some research on their net use and possible schools for Internet exchange. We found Mact Island one of the best areas. It has relations with Japan.

Saint Alphonsas High School
It has 25 DOS machines. They have keen interest in communication because the country is composed of many islands far apart from each other. In the area where there are no telephone systems, portable phones are popular; they cost about 20,000 yen, equivalent to average monthly salary. Compared with Asian countries, students are highly proficient in English. There are several Internet providers and teachers are familiar with Internet use.
(6)Indonesia

We are in touch with Indonesia University and Surabaya University of Education and trying to find some high schools that we can start exchange with. Some providers are setting up business. We have received some requests from local high schools to start exchange.
(7) Singapore

We are trying to find some schools for exchange through Japanese schools in Singapore.
(8) Taiwan

We are corresponding with Dr. Chong of Taipei University, who was in Japan as a guest lecturer at the International Conference in Fukuoka. We met him at the conference and talked about our project to connect schools in Asia supported by CEC and Telecommunication Ministry. We asked him to introduce some schools with 64K line so we can have CU-SeeMe contact.

5.The Nepal Project
In September in 1996, we organized the first international conference by high school students. We invited two high school students and two teachers from Nepal and had several exchange meetings. Everything was organized by voluntary work. Not only the students but also the adults who were helping were greatly moved by the exchanges.

(1) Message from the Principal

This visit of ours in Japan is made possible by the school net society of Japan to exchange the culture and our views with one another. And now we have found your country and people to be very special, loving, helpful and cooperative. We very much like the way of life-style. It was a new experience for us to learn about your private and public high schools and as well as kindergarten schools. We hope to exchange our ideas and share our views more and more in future with Japan and especially with the school teachers and with students.

Heartfelt thanks to you all and best wishes to the members who made this project a big success by giving us this chance to have this experience. We would like to invite you and request you to give us chance to serve you and help you to experience our country, our culture, and school life with students.

(2) Schedule

9/15 Kathmandu ---> OSAKA
9/16 Conference by Osaka Private Schools Association
9/18 OSAKA ---> NAGOYA
9/19,20 Visit Komaki High School at its school festival
9/21 Visit Taki High School at its school festival
9/22 Conference for high school students by Tokai Schoolnet
9/23-27 Visit Hikarigaoka High School in Okazaki and
Nagoya Women's Uni High School
9/28 NAGOYA ---> ASAHIKAWA
9/29 Asahikawa High School
9/30 ASAHIKAWA ---> TOKYO
10/1-3 Tokyo Sight-seeing
10/4 TOKYO ---> YOKKAICHI
10/5 Komona High School
10/6 YOKKAICHI ---> OSAKA ---> Katmandu

(3) The Students' Activities

The students had five meetings to prepare for the conference after the off-line meeting. They worked hard to make plans for the conference and made a video about the life of Japanese high school students to show at the conference.
(i) International conference
Participants: eighty people
Activities: Dance by Seiryo Commercial H.S. dance team, welcome speeches, self-introductions, Nepali traditional dance and video
Introduction of Nepal
Video about Japanese high school students
Introduction of Japanese education system and curriculum
CU-SeeMe contact with Asahikawa Ryoun High School
Introduction of Japanese annual celebrations and annual school events
Discussion on energy and environment problems
Welcome party- Introduction of traditional and modern Japanese plays
Questions, answers, and discussion translated by students

(4) The Nepal Students' Impression of Japan

-Written by K.M.

My first impression of Japan
I think what I heard about Japan is absolutely true. It is definitely "the land of the rising sun." It has developed in such a short time that it is beyond description. In terms of science and technology, it has come a long way.
In my thinking, it must be very expensive to buy anything because everywhere I saw high-price items. I'm quite amazed. Why is it so expensive over here? Even a can of coke costs 110 yen. By the way, most of the high school students have a pocket bell which seems to be very useful and the portable phones are convenient, too.
Japanese people are very attached to their culture and tradition. They use Japanese language everywhere. I think they want to preserve their culture.
Comments on Exchange Activities are as follows.
The dance by the Nepali students made the Japanese students feel what Nepali culture is like. The video about Nepal made them realize both aspects of Japan, material richness and spiritual poverty. The major language used in the conference was English. Some parts in Japanese were translated in English to each of the Nepali student by students of Nanzan International High School. The student who served as master of ceremonies did a great job handling English and Japanese effectively. Some of the participants were impressed with the fluent English of the Nepali students and the students of the International High School. This encouraged them to study English, and some tried very hard to communicate in English. The students who listened to English and tried to understand Nepal country have taken the first step in cross-cultural understanding.
(5) Expanding Activities in Other Areas in Japan

The same kind of conferences were held not only in Nagoya, but also in Osaka, Mie, Tokyo and Hokkaido. The use of Internet made it possible. See "http://210.235.197.2/nepal/" about these activities.

6.Changes in the Students Through the Exchange Program

We, as teachers, are responsible for giving a new point of view to our students. Students will realize that their point of view is not the only way of seeing things. That's what we hope. How have the students changed through this project and what have the teachers learned? We are teachers. Giving students new prospects and stimulating ourselves at the same time, we hope they will come to see different perspectives. We have carried out this project with such an intention. I'd like to look back at how the students have changed, and what we teachers have learned.

CHANGES IN THE STUDENTS

Motivation to study English
Students understood that English is an international language. Students were impressed that young people of the same age had come all the way from Nepal. They had a lot to say and a lot to ask. However, English skills were an obstacle. They felt that English just for exams and for knowledge's sake was not of much use. This frustrated feeling greatly motivated them to try harder in practicing English conversation. After all, this project taught the students the basic system of learning: Need - Study - Practice.

What students realized from activities
The students realized that we are all living right now. By exchanging email, they have experienced fresh surprises. They saw many differences: content of presentation, way to express things, type of hardware/machine, and so on. The quickness of the Internet made them aware of Nepal and all other people on the daily basis. The students saw wealth and poverty. Japan is wealthy as various figures and statistics show. Japanese students have seen that true happiness lies in mental satisfaction, not in material satisfaction. A student made up an impressive phrase, "Poverty in wealth". I believe that this was an excellent opportunity to reflect our lives. For them, Nepal changed from "Nepal in the textbook" to "Nepal, where a friend of mine lives." Nepal isn't really known to the students. Many of them did not even know the capital, Katmandu. Through this interaction, they learned about each other's culture and life. Japanese students were also impressed with the Nepalese dance performed in their presentation. This gave them a chance to think about the style of interaction. Nepal as a country with the Himalayan peaks has changed into a country where their friend, Jasmine, is living.

How wonderful the Internet is!
The Internet helped a great deal for us to prepare for this interactive project. We could communicate easily within Japan (with Asahikawa, Hokkaido) and also with Nepal. There was very little time lag, and the students could understand the benefits of the Internet.

How wonderful collaboration is!
As seen in the student's responses in the questionnaire, it was a great joy for them to accomplish one thing together. This time, 'collaboration' was not just a word, but working together, experiencing together, and being moved together. This has undoubtedly given them greater self-confidence.

A bigger self and a bigger world
One problem in Japanese schools is the lack of inter-school communication. Furthermore, we must admit that grouping similar students for the sake of 'easier education' decreases that kind of communication. This project was a good opportunity to break the wall between schools, and learn a lot about other schools.

Self awareness as an international person
This project helped the students to be aware of their international roles. They made plans and carried them out themselves. They tried to make full use of English. This experience will be useful in their future from an international point of view.

Acquisition of computer literacy
The students including complete beginners in email could feel the advantage of using it --- its speed, its convenience and so forth. They can see that it is an indispensable tool for an international person. The actual experience of the web and Cu-SeeMe at Nanzan University was highly effective in establishing the role of the Internet in their respective lives.

Collaboration between teachers and students
The students, who used to be an obedient mass, changed into thinking selves. Everybody could take leadership in a certain part. It is true that teachers help them with official matters, such as calculating expenses etc., but we let the students do the essentials. This sense of responsibility made them more confident in themselves.
In one high school, this kind of confidence in their own identity was seen in one student's act. She declared that she was a Korean, which unfortunately could lead to some future difficulty in our society. Then she visited her home country with confidence. Through the activities with students, we could see an enthusiasm in the students that is not usually apparent in the classroom. Both the teachers and the students knew what to do and what our goal was. We worked hand in hand. We were also able to get an objective view of our students as a group in comparison with the students of other schools. This helped us to give them more effective and appropriate advice.

Teacher solidarity
Teachers from twelve high schools worked together this time. There were various types of schools: public and private, academic and vocational, girls', boys' and co-ed. Teachers have learned a lot about discipline and about the Internet at each school by working for themselves.

7. What has changed Through This Pject?
(1) Cooperation of Teachers and Students

As first the students were just following the instructions of the teachers and did carried them out well enough. But as the project went on, they began to organize plans with the teachers and to carry them out with the teachers. The teachers took care of the financial part, but all the other conference planning was left to the students. This made them feel more confident in taking the initiative. These experience made one of the students, who is of Korean ancestry, decide not to hide the nationality of the family any more and visited Korea.
(2) Changes in the Teachers

The division of what was to be done by teachers and by students was clear in this project. By being responsible for their own part and at the same time working together with the students for one purpose, teachers discovered new things about their students. It was also a good opportunity for the teachers to work together with the students from other schools, which lead them to make a relative evaluation of the students in their schools.
(3) Cooperation Among Teachers of Different Schools

The participants in this project were from 12 different schools: private schools, academic schools, vocational schools, girls' schools, boys' schools. At each school, the stage of the Internet use was different. In Japanese schools where harmony is the most appreciated, active and motivated teachers are sometimes thought to be a nuisance. For these teachers, school is not a good place to work with a positive attitude. So we could encourage each other through information exchange on the net.
(4) Better Understanding of Attempts Towards International Understanding

We have learned how to use the Internet for international education and information exchange in the country. We had a CU-SeeMe contact between Nagoya and Hokkaido. Now we are working on publishing a book on what we have done.
(5) Children in the Class, Children in Asia, Children in the World

The benefit for students should be the prime consideration in our activities. Through this project, we have come to think "the students" should include not only the students in my class but also the students in all of Asia or beyond. We ourselves have recognized a new field of education through the use of the Internet.
(6) Participation in International Network

These kinds of activities call for cooperation with teachers in other countries. We met many key persons while participating in international conferences. We have shared and helped each other in Japan. As we came to this stage, however, we have learned to cooperate with teachers in Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. We presented a report on our activities at the APNG Conference in Hong Kong at the end of January, and another conference in Fukuoka last December.
(7) The Purpose of Schoolnet Japan

Schoolnet is composed of university, high school and junior high school teachers (http://www.schollnet.or.jp/). We support each other both technically and mentally. The network in universities is much more advanced than that of high schools, so the knowledge of university professors is an essential element in keeping this association active and effective. In fact, we got all the necessary information of the present environment with the Internet in Nepal from university professors.
(8) To Promote the Network Among Local Schools

The Internet in school has had a great effect on us. Reports on our activities and attempts will be helpful for schools which do not yet have an Internet connection.
(9) Press Cooperation

Some newspapers, Chunichi, Sankei, Asahi, covered this project. That was a great encouragement for the students and good promotion for teachers. We hope this project will link up with local voluntary activities and develop into regular international conference by high school students. In some areas of Aichi Prefecture, students from more than three schools are banned from assembling. This was originally intended to prohibit students' political activities. The effect of the press coverage was a great support for the students.

8. Towards the Future
The following should be considered in our future activities:
(1) Financial Point of View

The international exchange through the Internet is a new field and has immeasurable educational value. However, helping developing countries to set up an Internet system and inviting people from those countries requires adequate financial support. We managed with some money we received for writing articles for Internet magazines, financial support from CEC and some personal donations. We had a hard time raising enough money while doing daily work.
(2) Who is supporting This Project?

Our activities depend on voluntary work. In the Japanese education world, an institution based on volunteers is "not recognized." There is no financial support from the government, and these activities are not allowed during working hours. That means all the work has to be done at night or weekends. The administration of this association entails sacrifice in personal life. These contradictions should be addressed as soon as possible.
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