By: Keiko Fukuzaki, JASK Volunteer
University of Kentucky, Asia Center
-- Keiko has been working in Kentucky as a Japanese-culture educational outreach coordinator through a grant from the Center for Global Partnership. --
My two year long program in Kentucky is almost over. There are only two
months left before I go back to Japan. Thanks to JASK and the UK Asia Center’s
support, I have been able to provide various programs around Kentucky. My main focus
has been school visits. I have spent 92 days doing school visits and have met about
When I first came here, I didn’t know much about Japanese traditional
culture. So I covered only basic themes about Japan, such as ’Japanese
elementary school student-life’, origami, and calligraphy. But people are very interested in
Japanese traditional culture and its heart, and they often asked me about it. At first I couldn’t answer very well. I
learned that I needed to know more about Japanese traditional culture. As I
prepared for presentations on Japan, I found the uniqueness of Japanese
culture. Once I got involved with the Japanese groups in the area, I found
great Sensei (teachers) and Nakama (friends) to study with.
When I did Tea Ceremony demonstrations or presented about Noh theatre, students
watched closely, concentrated on what was going on and what I was saying. Before
I came here and studied more, I had not realized that Japanese culture is so
deep and interwoven with religion and customs. I also didn’t realize until I
came here how valuable Japanese Culture was to all people, not only the
Japanese. There are so many things to learn from traditional culture. You can
learn how to communicate with others, how to show respect to people, how to
show appreciation to nature, art, and even everyday objects that you use. You
can find friends who share the same ideas as you do easily. That’s why I’m
enjoying learning and spreading them to many people.
I’ve also learned about Kentucky’s wonderful culture, and what kind of
image they have of Japan, the American education system, and more. I love the people
of Kentucky! They are very nice, friendly and are very hospitable. I really
appreciate that I have been blessed with this role. I feel like I have been educated
by the people of Kentucky even more than I have taught them.
After my program is over, I would like to continue to learn about other cultures
and tell Japanese people about my great experiences in Kentucky.