2019/2020 J-LEAP REPORT

BY Risako Yui

Waipahu High School
Waipahu, HI

Aloha!My name is Risako Yui. I’m currently working as a Japanese assistant teacher at Waipahu High School (WHS,) in Hawaii.

I will stay in Hawaii as a Japanese assistant teacher for about two years under the Japanese-Language Education Assistant Program (J-LEAP). I remember how glad I was to find out that I would go and stay in Hawaii. I was excited that I would be able to study in such a beautiful place, and I was proud to share my luck with my family and friends. 

About two months have passed since I left Japan on July 24 and I'm still getting used to Hawaii, the school, and my host family. So, everything I see and hear is fresh and thrilling. Today I will tell you about Waipahu High School and the class style.

I am working for Waipahu High School in Waipahu, Oahu. "Wai" means water and “puff” means "splash out" in the Hawaiian language. I hear that indigenous people were delighted by the abundant outpouring of water and named it “Waipahu.” The community of Waipahu has many Asians. About 80% of the students at Waipahu High School are initially from the Philippines. The school has a total of 3000 students, 200 of whom are Japanese, and there are three Japanese teachers who each have their own unique teaching style. 

One of those three teachers is my lead teacher (LT), Will Smith. He is so kind and gentle with a great passion for teaching. Hs class style is fascinating. His motto is, "If you have fun, you can do anything." He also emphasizes communication, so we have no textbooks or desks. I was surprised at first! My school in Japan traditionally educates students to write and read above all else. I wondered how he could teach his class for 90 minutes with no textbooks. How could he keep his students interested? 

Such worries were unnecessary because his lesson are so exciting. He runs through the 90-minute lesson without using textbooks. All ideas of teaching come from his judgment. He has plenty of ideas. I am now assisting him in his class, following his ideas one by one under his guidance. Not only is it fun, but students who have been attending his class for a long time can communicate well. I feel this is fantastic. 

Even during the morning and lunch breaks, many students gather in his classroom. For the past two months, I have learned a lot from his attitude. He talks to each student face-to-face, and he believes in his or her future.  

He is a man of outstanding character. If I work with him for two years, I believe I can grow not only as a person but also as a teacher. I still have to learn so many things. But I will take on every challenge I can with a smile and gratitude. I will do my best and enjoy the class!

Lastly, my appreciation goes to Will for his consistent guidance, my host family the Sanborns for their love, my family and friends in Japan for their continuous support, and all J-LEAP officials for their help. 

Mahalo!