November 2009

Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Japan—The prominence of English words in Japanese culture is quite interesting. Department stores here are filled with clothes that feature English words, oftentimes in an order that does not make a great deal of sense. The use of English is deemed to be stylish. I was well aware of this phenomenon, but what surprised me is the use of English on apartments in our neighborhood. We live in “Yuki House.” Around the corner is “Breeze,” which is naturally across the street from “South Wind.” There are many others. My favorite is an apartment up the street that is called “Good Luck.” I am not sure whether that is a warning for those who enter the building or best wishes for those who venture outside.

Learn more about Bill’s quarter in Japan

Read all of Bill’s Postcards dispatches.

Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Shurijo Castle, Japan—Okinawa is now part of Japan, but it was the heart of the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1429 to 1879. Shuri was the capital of the kingdom and King Sho Hashi established Shurijo Castle as the seat of the Sho Dynasty. The castle was destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945 and the grounds became the site for the University of the Ryukyus when it was established under the United States Civil Administration in 1950.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Japan—Sakata kindergarten celebrates birthdays once a month. Our twins, Maya and Tomo, turned 6 on Halloween, but the October celebration occurred before they started in the middle of the month. The school was kind enough to include them with the students born in November. It was quite the celebration. Each of the birthday students was interviewed by one of their classmates and received a book that was personalized with pictures and a message from their teacher. There were also musical performances from each class. And to end the celebration, I was asked to read a Russian folktale, The Gigantic Turnip, in English. I was quite nervous, but all went well.

Learn more about Bill’s quarter in Japan

Read all of Bill’s Postcards dispatches.

Tacoma/China—In a recent cultural exchange between U.S. and Chinese educators, UW Tacoma Chancellor Pat Spakes learned that American and Chinese educators have much to learn from each other.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Kakazu Heights, Japan—The University of the Ryukyus is located on a plateau in the center of this part of the island of Okinawa. The city of Nishihara, where we live, extends down the hills to the east coast of the island. We spend much of our time in and around Nishihara-cho, and the U.S. military presence is not strong, outside of military planes one sees overhead.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Japan—I like to start many of my classes at UW Tacoma with something I call “News & Notes.” The basic idea is to connect things that are happening in the world with our discussions in class. A couple of years ago I discussed an article I found on how popular SpongeBob Squarepants was among young women in Japan and how it translated into millions of dollars in merchandise sales.

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Associate Professor Sian Davies-Vollum writes from an around-the-world voyage through the Semester at Sea program.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam—The Mekong Delta is only a two-hour bus ride from vast Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), but life there is a world away from the city's throbbing streets. I spent a day there, starting at My Tho, the gateway to the delta.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Japan—Timing is everything. Our twins, Maya and Tomo, enrolled in Sakata kindergarten two weeks ago, and today they were able to participate in the school sports festival, called an “ondokai.” It is a tradition in Japanese elementary schools, and my wife, Miyuki, has told us stories about her ondokai in Hokkaido when she was growing up. We were thrilled that Maya and Tomo could experience an ondokai during our five months here.

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