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International Co-Learning with Local Community Interactions


Whether we are interested in intercultural understanding or community work, everything revolves around communication. In the first, theoretical, part of this two-month intensive seminar, international students from seven countries and Japanese students from different faculties learned together about intercultural and intergenerational communication.

In cooperation with Matsumoto City, the students looked at the organisation and structure of the Matsumoto City and Municipal Councils (Chokai) and heard about the role of the Kominkan, a kind of community centre.


In the second, and practical, part of the seminar, the students went to the local community of the Asama Onsen area and conducted field research. They interviewed local residents, visited a Kominkan and a hot spring (onsen), and climbed a mountain together with local people and an NPO committed to replanting the trees destroyed by a fire on the mountainside 20 years ago.


The results of their research were presented online in COIL sessions with the University of Leipzig in Germany. The Leipzig students also presented examples of shared spaces run by local communities, such as the Community Gardens or the "Japanese House" founded by a group of Japanese architects, artists, and students of Japanese studies from the University of Leipzig.


One of the aims of the seminar was for the students to work together to complete the tasks set and to become more confident in communicating with people from other cultures and generations.

The students' feedback showed that they liked the mix of presence, online sessions and fieldwork and that both international and Japanese students found the exchange with the local community very special.

 - Amanda Schuetze, Assistant Professor, Center for Global Education and Collaboration
 Course instructor of the International Co-Learning Practice Seminar ICP at Shinshu University