WHEELING, W.Va., May 9, 2023 — The Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) at West Liberty University has partnered with Ohio County Public Library to present classes and lunchtime programs about Japanese culture. The initial program took place last Thursday but there are many more opportunities to enjoy a bit of Japan culture and learn more about this global neighbor over the next few weeks and months.
West Liberty University Rollie Williams International Center was selected as a host site for JOI Program through 2024. In August 2022, Manami Kawazoe, who will serve as instructor for the People’s University series, arrived from Kyoto, Japan and will remain at WLU for the next two years. Her mission is to promote awareness and understanding of Japan through activities and events for culture exchange.
In keeping with the mission of public libraries as sanctuaries of free learning for all people, the Ohio County Public Library created The People’s University, a free program for adults who wish to continue their education in the liberal arts. The People’s University features courses—taught by experts in each subject—that enable patrons to pursue their goal of lifelong learning in classic subjects such as history, philosophy, and literature. Classes are both in person and online. Patrons may attend as many classes as they wish. There are no tests of other requirements and all programs are free and open to the public.
The full schedule for the Japanese Culture series follows.
- May 11, 2023 at 7 pm: Class 2, The Art of Origami – Origami is the art of paper folding. In Japanese, “ori” means folding and “gami” means paper. Origami is more than just paper folding. It’s art. Origami can range from the super complex with realistic models to the simple models that are easier to fold.
- May 18, 2023 at 7 pm: Class 3, Japanese Calligraphy (Facebook event). Japanese calligraphy is one of the most celebrated and revered forms of artistic expression with writing. The tradition of calligraphy was first brought to Japan by China in the 6th century A.D. Since then, a style and technique unique to Japan has formed, and it has been practiced by samurai, nobility, and ordinary people ever since.
- May 25, 2023 at 7 pm: Class 4, The Japanese Tea Ceremony (Facebook event), this ceremony is a way of preparing and drinking green tea typically in a traditional tea room with a tatami (straw mat) floor. Beyond just serving and receiving tea, one of the main purposes of the tea ceremony is for the guests to enjoy the hospitality of the host in an atmosphere distinct from the fast pace of everyday life.
- June 1, 2023 at 7 pm: Class 5-Making Onigiri (Facebook event), Onigiri are a quick easy meal, much like sandwiches in the United States, eaten for lunch, dinner, a snack – even breakfast! Fillings can include fish, veggies, herbs – truly whatever you like. They are also an important comfort food, a symbol of love and caring, in Japan. Like a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies or a bowl of chicken soup, rice balls remind one of home and feeling cozy.
In addition to the five People’s University classes, Manami Kawazoe will also present three noon Lunch With Books programs at the Library this spring and summer.
The first takes place at noon, Tuesday, May 16, 2023, and will feature a Book Discussion of Mottainai Grandma. The word “Mottainai” is a Japanese adjective that describes how unfortunate it is for something to go to waste. It expresses a sense of guilt, regret, or sorrow felt for the act of wasting. The feeling connected to the word is deeply entrenched in the culture and the ways of thinking in Japan.
Then at noon on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, Kawazoe will lead a discussion of the Japanese film, “My Neighbor Totoro.” In the film, two young girls, 10-year-old Satsuki and her 4-year-old sister Mei, move into a house in the country with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother. Satsuki and Mei discover that the nearby forest is inhabited by magical creatures called Totoros (pronounced toe-toe-ro). They soon befriend these Totoros, and have several magical adventures. A free screening of the film will be held at OCPL on Friday, May 26 at 2 pm.
The final program in the Lunch With Books series will take place at noon, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, when Kawazoe teaches guests useful words and phrases for travelers to Japan.
All Ohio County Public Library programs are free and open to the public. For more information, call 304-232-0244 or visit www.ohiocountylibrary.org. For more information on the Japanese Outreach Initiative and the Rollie Williams International Center, please click here. The Rollie Williams International Center is located in Shotwell Hall and offers many activities and a variety of support for the international students who attend WLU. Approximately 70 international students have studied at WLU this academic year, representing 35 countries.
The International Center is led by Mia Szabo who is assisted in her work by Ryan Glanville, coordinator of International Programs and Recruiting. For more information, please contact Szabo at 304.336.8270.