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November 2002 - Issue No. #48 (p.17)

EFL and International Community Work

by Craig Smith

Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Japan

In 1995, we invited Kip Cates to make a presentation to students and teachers at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies (KUFS) on ways we can couple language learning with learning about our world's cultures, its problems, and efforts to create a better world.

We were worried that we would be embarrassed by a low turnout. Why had we booked the large lecture hall! We were hoping for an audience of 50 but we optimistically made 80 copies of Kip's handouts. I knew I could use them in some of my classes so the extras wouldn't be wasted.

I missed the first half of Kip's talk. I was running back and forth between the classroom and the copy machine as the seats filled. And then, I was giving handouts to students who had crowded in and were standing along the back and side walls. I was starting to worry about fire exits as more kids came in and sat down on the steps and on the stage. The final count was over 500!

Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

Our school motto is "Pax Mundi per Linguas" which is Latin meaning "world peace through languages" and toward which our educational goal is oriented. Should you find this motto impressive and worthwhile as a philosophy of life, our university will be your first option when choosing a university for your future career or for your interest in the international community as a whole.

- Tetsushi Horikawa (President)
Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

The students' response resulted in:

  • the formation of three community work groups and a new Service Learning course.
  • in 2002, two of our students received a Leadership Award from an international non-governmental organization (NGO).
  • two others were finalists in an oral presentation contest on community work with students from nine Asian countries.
  • another group raised funds for and built a house with Habitat for Humanity.
  • a third group taught Japanese songs and games at a primary school in Thailand while learning about the fragility of children's rights to education.
  • another student circle participated in three Model United Nations events.
  • a fourth group organized three large Home Stay Challenge meetings to prepare students to be proactive in creating good communication and also to be assertive problem-solvers.

The other awareness/fund raising events and meetings these students held are too numerous to list. Thanks Kip! But don't come back just yet! We can hardly keep up with the energy you found outlets for the first time.

Where did all this energy come from? The KUFS motto is Pax Mundi Per Linguas. Probably, an early translation was something like, "peace in the world through language learning." Today we recognize that simply speaking the same languages does not necessarily lead to peace and the translation would now reflect a more sophisticated understanding: "peace in the world through better communication." Our student activists believe that the best communication involves doing something with their language skills to bring about a peaceful world.

EFL stands for learning English as a Foreign Language. It also stands for energy, friendships, and longing. When we talked to our students after Kip's 1995 talk, we discovered that they were willing to be active. In fact, they felt frustrated by not knowing what they could do to help solve community problems. They believed in the possibility of making friendships with the world's peoples if only they could do something together. Our students shared a pure-hearted longing for a more peaceful world. To get a sense of that EFL spirit, read the essay by Kanae Tsutsumi (next page), a 4th year KUFS English major.

Craig Smith, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies (KUFS), 6 Kasame-cho, Saiin, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 615, JAPAN Webpage: http://www.


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650