By Eliezer Muchiri
The Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) culminated its two-week Japanese language training course in JKUAT on a high note with a premier graduating batch of 44 student-graduates drawn from staff and students of the university.
The free course offered from Monday, 4th July, 2016 to 15th July 2016, was unveiled after a Memorandum of Understanding drafted between JICE and the Center for Foreign Languages and Linguistics (CFLL) under the stewardship of Mr. Edward Miring’u- the Center Chairperson. This was in quick succession to prior networking by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga, who fostered the linkage with JICE President after meeting few months earlier. It was in the meeting that the Vice Chancellor learnt of the JICE international exchange programmes in Africa and negotiated to make JKUAT a Japan Pre-departure Language Training Center which led to the rolling-out of the two-week training program.
The programme organised into two classes; Basic Japanese At Workplace and Basic Japanese for Daily Campus Life; served to equip the learners with elementary Japanese language skills to enable them communicate with ease in non-complex Japanese interaction contexts. The courses served to cover areas such as greetings, professional etiquette, and daily routine among others.
Speaking in the closing ceremony, JICE Vice President, Ms. Masako KISHIMOTO, with reference to previous visit to Kenya, “…it is true what is said about Africa. Once you come to Africa, you want to come again” and this has been made possible by the Japanese Language Training Programme here at JKUAT. She lauded the students for their efforts to learn the Japanese Language. She also expressed sincerest gratitude to the University and all staff led by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs (DVC.AA), Prof. Romanus Odhiambo, for the cooperation and hospitality rendered. She also expressed her gratitude to the Africa-ai-Japan office in JKUAT under the leadership of Prof. Manabu TSUNODA, also present in the ceremony, for maintaining the open link between Kenya and Japan and making the JICE visit a remarkable experience.
Prof. Odhiambo, who represented the Vice Chancellor in the ceremony, intimated that the University has been on the high echelons of ‘global excellence in training, research and innovation for development. “People train in JKUAT to talk to the world. To talk to the world you have to know the world languages and Japanese is a world language,” he pinned, “We want more of this regularly…it costs much but pays,” he added. As a keynote, Prof. Odhiambo traced the history of Kenya-Japan cooperation pointing in specific that the setting up of JKUAT at first in 1979 as Jomo Kenyatta College of Agriculture and Technology (JKCAT) was through the generous donation of the Japanese government and further innumerable support that has seen JKUAT rise to the standard it is currently.
Echoing her own remarks that she made in the opening ceremony; Dr. Hellen Mberia, the Dean, School of Communication and Development Studies (SCDS) under which the Center for Foreign Languages and Linguistics is domiciled; urged all students to keep learning and practising the language. She implored that all be “good ambassadors of the Japanese language and to invite other students to learn it.” She also affirmed the openness of the School and University to develop further links and a gateway for cultural exchange in the future.
Referring to the Japanese speeches made by the students at the closing ceremony, Dr. Oloko M.A, the acting Principal for the College of Human Resource Development (COHRED) and Dean School of Business, termed the Japanese speech as “…incomprehensible yet interesting to the ears”. She congratulated the participants stating that “students had something new to learn…and it takes a sacrifice, a great one for that matter, to do so”.
Other executives in the closing ceremony included Mr. Edward Miring’u, Chairperson Center for Foreign Languages and Linguistics, Ms. Yoko WATABE, Chief Japanese Language Instructor of International Training department; Ms. Nao NAKAZAWA, Staff of International Training Department; Prof. Bernard Ikua, Principal College of Engineering and Technology(COETEC, JKUAT), Prof. John M. Wesonga, Directorate of Performance Contracting and Appraisal (PiPCA, JKUAT), . Prof Moris M. Sakwa, Department of Development Studies; and Ms. Joan Kittot, Teacher of Japanese Language at JKUAT,
During the two-week course, students were treated to an exquisite excursion at The Heron Portico Hotel, Kilimani, Nairobi, by JICE on a Saturday afternoon. In the retreat, the participants interacted and networked with other Japanese professionals and unwound from the usual class work.
At the end of the course, students were awarded certificates by JICE Vice President Ms. Masako KISHIMOTO, which Prof. Odhiambo referred to saying that the students were “…lucky, have become global and are recognised worldwide.” Having personally participated and learned the language in the two-week duration, it is imperative to affirm the training was more than illuminating and fulfilling. My hope and I believe the hope of others who had this experience, is that this was not the last one of its kind.