Japanese teacher with a love for Vietnam

DA NANG, JAPAN (VIET NAM NEWS/ANN) – Shuto Mika, 54, loves her job as a Japanese language teacher for many reasons.

It is a job she graduated and mastered in. It has provided her opportunities to teach her mother language to many foreigners at universities, Japanese schools, enterprises, teacher training classes and international exchange associations in Japan, especially in her hometown Himeji City, for more than 17 years.

It has also brought her to live and teach as a volunteer teacher in Vietnam, where she has fallen in love with a Vietnamese instrument called the danbau (monochord) and the traditional costume aodai (long dress).

Shuto’s first experience of Vietnam came from stories told by Vietnamese friends she met when she was a part-time teacher at a Japanese school in Japan.

“One time I was chatting with two Vietnamese sisters who told me stories about Vietnam, about the sorrow and aftermath of the war as well as people’s efforts to get over it,” Shuto said.

“These stories really struck me, as I have never experienced war,” she said.

After becoming a Japanese teacher, Shuto met many foreigners, particularly Vietnamese people.

“I taught Japanese to many expatriates, so I always saw their optimistic attitude. I admire how they can live so passionately in a country that is not their homeland,” Shuto said.

“I really wanted to try teaching Japanese overseas to meet more people, so I decided to teach in Vietnam,” she said.

When Shuto found out about the Japan International Co-operation Agency’s (JICA) Senior Volunteers programme that offered the opportunity to come to Vietnam, she knew it was time to make her dream come true.

She was selected to become a volunteer Japanese teacher at Da Nang University of Foreign Language Studies in October 2018. Every day, she co-lectures with a Vietnamese teacher and helps younger teachers with her teaching methods and expertise.

“This is my first time volunteering abroad, but fortunately, I am teaching at a university where there aren’t many differences from what I’ve done in the past,” she said.

Shuto said she was inspired by her Vietnamese students, who have a reputation for their diligence and hard work.

“They all want to learn Japanese so they can become proficient,” she said.

Shuto expects that her students who graduate from the university would be able to find work at Japanese businesses or use Japanese at work.