Written by Tim Glover, journalism teaching assistant
It was with some apprehension (as well as excitement) that I found myself sitting on a train a few weeks ago on my way to the Journalism, Politics and Culture Summer School. How much more daunted must the 16 Japanese students have felt as they packed their suitcases, boarded long haul flights, and prepared themselves to meet a group of strangers with whom they would be spending pretty much all of the next two weeks?
Fortunately as the summer school got off to a flying start there was little time for such anxious reflections. The programme was packed, divided between lessons, social activities, and eating meals. (The food was all excellent by the way, despite the apparent belief in Japan that English food is world-famous for being the worst.)
With all this busyness it was only midway through the second week that I realised that an extraordinary thing was happening. Despite being there in order to assist the Japanese students in learning about journalism, I found to my astonishment that my own interest in newspapers and the media (which had been pretty considerable before) was massively increasing. When I collected the newspapers every morning I found myself unable to resist leafing through them to compare their headlines were.
It was no surprise then that by the end of the course the students also showed a significant increase in their knowledge of English journalism, politics and of course culture, and not only that, but that their written ability demonstrated very impressive improvement. It was amazing to see how much they had learnt in two weeks. I even felt proud.
But perhaps the greatest surprise of all – when at last the time came to say goodbye – was the way that this disparate group of students from across Japan (plus Chris and I, the teaching assistants) had got to know each other so well, and even got on rather well. Nobody wanted to leave; tears were shed as buses were boarded and goodbyes were said. We had arrived as strangers; we parted as friends.
To attendees of the Summer School in 2014: you’re going to have a great time! Make sure you make the most of it!