Shiiba Village Japan

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Adventures in Shiiba - April 1994
Erik Kassebaum

It is graduation season here in Shiiba. Graduation Day celebrates the change that results from years of hard work and dedication. Graduation ceremonies usually have three main themes:

  1. Students, parents and teachers are congratulated on a job well done
  2. Everyone is reminded that learning is a lifelong process - and that the job never ends
  3. Everyone is reminded of their responsibilities to friends, family, work, and the community

My Junior High School did not have a graduation ceremony, but many Junior High Schools in America do have such ceremonies. In California students usually go to High School in the community where they live - provided that they have passed all of their classes. Students who do not pass their classes have to repeat courses and do not advance with their classmates.

There is no charge to attend High School in California and in most other states.

In the United States of America, the degree of difficulty for schoolwork increases dramatically each time you graduate. This progression continues through college and into graduate school. Also, with each transition you are allowed to make fewer mistakes.

This contrasts with Japan in that young people must work very hard until they get to College. In Japan, college is seen as a time and place whereby social skills are developed and jobs located. American Junior and Senior High Schools are like Japanese colleges in that the emphasis is on social skills. American Colleges stress academic skills. I believe both educational systems (American and Japanese) could learn a lot from each other. I was brought here by Monbusho as an English Teacher and as a representative of my culture's educational system. Slowly, things change. In time, I will return to the United States and share the knowledge that I have acquired here in Shiiba with friends, other teachers, and my community.

To the graduates I wish you the best of luck - you will need it. As you grow older you will find that the need to learn new things never ends. As an adult you will find yourself picking topics and studying about them by yourself - hopefully you will learn effective ways to do this while in school. Remember learning can be fun.