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Thirty two students from 7 high schools throughout the region recently participated in the inaugural Japan Bowl of Southern California (JBSC) this past March in Los Angeles. Hosted by the Japan America Society of Southern California (JASSC), and sponsored in part by Hitachi, the JBSC is a Japanese language and culture competition which tests high school students not only on Japanese language, but also on Japan, the country. It both motivates and rewards the high school students who have chosen Japanese as their foreign language of study.
Serving as a celebrity judge, Takashi Ohde, Hitachi Corporate Officer and General Manager, found some of the students to have more knowledge of Japan than him. "I was quite impressed by that," he said.
As the winner of the highest level of competition, students from Stevenson High School in Pebble Beach received an expense paid trip to Washington DC where they participated in the National Japan Bowl this past April.
And on a side note, even though they did not win the JBSC, Long Beach Polytechnic High School was so motivated and enthused that they held a fundraiser at their school and raised enough money to send six students to the National Bowl.
For 11 years, the Hitachi Japanese Kite Workshops, in partnership with the Japan America Society of Southern California, have provided a cultural experience unlike no other to more than 8,000 elementary school students throughout the Los Angeles area.
Traveling from Japan, Japanese Kite Master Mikio Toki , assisted by Ms. Chieko Tagami, a world champion in sport kiting, visited 12 schools and held 13 workshops this past October. Kite Master Toki offered hands on instruction on how to make a traditional Japanese kite made of bamboo and washi paper. In a show of camaraderie, students were also asked to help their fellow student in making their kites. Some children were hesitant at first, but others were enthusiastic and realized how fun it was to work as a team. But the best part came at the end of the workshop. Most of the students were able to fly their kites on the playground, an experience some of them have never had before and won’t soon forget.
With seven newly added schools this year, the workshops served over 1,100 students, giving this year’s program the highest participation rate in its history. The workshops have also had a profound and lasting influence on the students. Teachers report that during the end of the year school reviews, a majority of the students site the Hitachi Japanese Kite Workshop as their favorite educational experience of the year.
Often asked to fill a need in communities which face many challenges, the Hitachi Southern California Regional Action Community (SCRCAC) presented Universal Design (UD) to more than 30 school aged children involved with the non- profit organization Community Service Programs (CSP) based in Santa Ana.
UD is the idea of making products and services easy to use for all people, regardless of their age, gender, cultural background or physical condition. The participants from the CSP Oak View location were asked to design a remote control that could easily be used by anyone. They were then asked to make a presentation to explain the design and workability of each remote.
CSP services 400 children in the Orange County community and is committed to serving youth, adults and families who are involved or at risk of involvement with the justice system. Elsa Greenfield, program director, said, "thank you for bringing UD to our CSP children and youth. It definitely got the kids thinking about how to make technology user friendly for all."