As the first activity of the University of Iowa’s Japan Foundation Institutional Project Support Grant, the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS) hosted a fully funded K-12 teacher-training workshop focused exclusively on Japanese culture and society on June 9-11, 2016. Assistant Professor Kendall Heitzman of the Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Dongwang Liu, Associate Director of CAPS, were the main organizers.
For three very full days, twenty teachers from across Iowa and the Upper Midwest were introduced to a variety of Japan-related topics by professors from the University of Iowa and elsewhere, with sessions on Japanese language and linguistics, anthropology, history, religion, film, and culture. Participants watched a contemporary film by Kurosawa Kiyoshi and a feature-length Studio Ghibli anime, and were introduced to Japanese cuisine in the form of sushi, which some participants were trying for the first time. Throughout, we focused on how participants could use their new knowledge in their own classrooms; the University of Iowa’s Japanese Librarian met with participants to discuss the university’s Japanese collection and suggest opportunities for future research, and all participants submitted curriculum plans after the workshop was over. The participating teachers were enthusiastic about the workshop, and we hope to hear of a small blossoming of Japan-related classes across the region in the near future!