OYA NO KAI INC wrote -
As part of the Portland Public Schools Japanese Immersion Program at Mt. Tabor Middle School, 74 eighth graders who have been studying Japanese since kindergarten will travel to Japan to immerse themselves in it’s language and culture.
These students are part of a public school language immersion program that begins in kindergarten. It is accessible free of charge, via lottery, to all Portland Public School students. Families who qualify for the District's free or reduced lunch program, are prioritized in the lottery, encouraging participants from often underserved communities.
The cost of the trip is approximately $2500 per student. This expense is covered by individual families, and the cost is prohibitive for some. However, due to the backing of Oya No Kai, a 501(c) 3 that supports the K-12 Japanese Immersion Program, need-based scholarships are available to any qualifying student. No student has ever been denied trip participation based on inability to pay.
To offset trip costs, and to support the trip scholarship fund, in the months leading up to the trip the 8th grade class as a group engages in a variety of fundraisers. All dollars raised are distributed evenly amongst participants, encouraging teamwork and cultivating a spirit of partnership. For some of these children, this will be their only opportunity to visit Japan, and to put their hard-earned language skills to work in a real-life setting.
$135 supports one entire day of the trip for one student. This includes meals (reading a menu, ordering in a restaurant), travel (reading a train or bus schedule and buying the correct tickets), and board (paying for and checking into a Japanese Inn). As simple as these activities are, they are the bedrock of international communication, and the foundation for what it requires to be a global traveler and citizen. Aptitude in these skills reinforces a young person’s belief in their ability to venture outside of their own cultural paradigm and interact with those who live, think and speak differently from themselves.
As robust as the classroom language program is, it is meaningless unless students are able to apply their learning in a real world setting. Students will read, listen and speak Japanese 24 hours a day - an immersion experience that no classroom-based language class can replicate, no matter how strong. While in Japan, students will conduct hands-on research related to math, science, social studies, language arts and Japanese. Students will complete individual and group field study assignments and present written and oral presentations in Japanese upon their return to the States.
Since kindergarten these 8th graders have worked hard to acquire their second language skills. Please support their ongoing Japanese education by supporting this priceless immersion opportunity with a donation. In doing so, you are supporting the importance of bi-literacy in America, respect for cultures different from one’s own, and a movement toward greater international communication and understanding.
* Funds are collected and distributed by Oya No Kai, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that supports the PPS K-12 Japanese Immersion Program. Tax ID # 93-1124364.