K-12 East Asian Connection
Bill Kobe (NCTA St. Paul ’09) has worn many hats over his long career trajectory: illustrator, chiropractor, graphic designer, and yes, even a stint as an embalmer. But through it all his passion for the arts---and ceramics, in particular—has remained unchanged. As he puts it, “though I’ve taken many interesting career side trips…I keep returning to clay.” Bill is currently an elementary art instructor at the Community School of Excellence in St. Paul, Minnesota, a charter institution that predominantly serves Hmong-American students. This Teaching about Asia seminar alum has brought the artistic traditions of China, Japan, and Korea to life in a very tangible way for his pupils, incorporating art projects such as Korean tea bowls and Terra Cotta soldiers into the curriculum over the years.
Bill’s NCTA seminar preparation, combined with previous experience as an art workshop instructor, has opened the door to other teaching opportunities abroad. In 2015, Bill was selected among teachers nationally to participate in a 5-week program in Beijing and Gao Qing, China, through Nisen and Bofei Education, where he taught English using drawing, story writing and miming. The following winter he was invited to teach in Inner Mongolia at a private art school and in Changde, Hunan province, where taught at the number one elementary, middle and high schools of that city. In China the number one designation is for schools that consistently score high academically.
Bill’s impressive performance abroad attracted interest from other programs eager to blend English education with fine and performing arts. At the invitation of INDEL and with the assistance of INDEL Beijing program manager, Monica Li, he will return to China to pilot a new program called “IDEA” (Imagination-Dreaming-English-Art): “I will be returning next summer to present my program in Beijing for two thirteen-day sessions at four different combined grade levels…if successful next summer, the program will expand to a winter session using retired teachers, and expand the following summer to include other cities in China.”
A second initiative that he will be involved in is a program from INDEL called PEC (Private Education Counselor). This online teacher program is a web based platform where American teachers can create lecture series based on topics of their choosing and share them in real time via the internet. The student and teacher will have a face-time opportunity for interaction. Students can enhance their English skills as well as get acclimated to American teaching practices and have a better entry experience into the American education system, and therefore be more successful as a Chinese student in America. Bill will be helping INDEL to make this a successful and sought after program in China.
Bill has used his experiences in international eduction to positively impact NCTA programming in Minnesota and beyond. This spring, he was invited by St. Paul seminar instructor Dr. Richard Bohr, with whom Bill has developed a “wonderful sharing friendship,” to speak to alumni on teaching opportunities in China. Moving forward, he hopes to forge an exclusive relationship between NCTA alumni and the INDEL/IDEA program in Beijing.
Outside of the classroom Bill devotes his time to making ceramic pet urns, gardening, and writing children’s stories. He explained his most recent work about a crab called KeAiBo: “the crab is one of those auspicious animals in Chinese culture…the story, as it begins, is similar to Jonathan Livingstone Seagull; the little crab wants to explore life over and beyond the rim of the tide pool that he lives in with his family.” He hopes to publish the story in China, a market he describes as “hungry for English stories for children.”
Writing, like, teaching, has built on the richness of Bill’s life experiences. His range of mentorship and volunteering activities—from coaching sports to judging art contests to leading a scout pack--inform his mission to shape the direction of young lives. But, as Bill notes, teaching has never been a one-way street: “As in most endeavors in life, you get what you give.”
EASC and NCTA congratulate Bill on his accomplishments and wish him the best of luck with the IDEA program this summer!
Return to top of page >NCTA Teaching about Asia Seminars
Every year, EASC coordinates NCTA Teaching about Asia seminars for K-12 teachers in the Midwest and South. Generously funded by the Freeman Foundation and taught by expert faculty, these seminars are designed to help teachers become more knowledgeable about East Asia and to assist them with developing strategies to pass that knowledge on to their students. Participants receive free books, school resources, and a personal stipend upon successful completion of the program.
In spring 2016, NCTA Teaching about Asia seminars were held in St. Paul, MN, New Albany, IN, and Chicago, IL. The seminars were led by NCTA instructors: Emeritus Professor Richard Bohr (College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University) in St. Paul; Professor Yu Shen (Indiana University Southeast) in New Albany, and Ms. Hanae Kim (University of Illinois Chicago) in Chicago. Under Professor Bohr and Professor Shen’s instruction, twelve teachers and eleven teachers learned about East Asia through cultural activities, lectures, and discussion respectively. Ms. Kim’s seminar, with thirteen teachers, featured expertise from Ms. Kim herself, as well as guest lecturers Dr. Luying Chen (Columbia College), Dr. Chan-Eung Park (Ohio State University), Dr. Lucy Park (University of Illinois at Chicago), Ms. Elizabeth Jorgensen (Arrowhead Union High School), Dr. Charles Kim (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Dr. Patrick Noonan (Northwestern University), Dr. Jennifer Dorothy Lee (School of Art Institute of Chicago), and Dr. Diana Lin (Indiana University Northwest).
EASC will also offer a weeklong Teaching about Asia seminar at Homewood City Schools in Birmingham, AL from June 13 to June 17 this summer for local primary, middle and high school teachers. The seminar will feature an overview of the histories and cultures of Japan, China, and Korea with a special emphasis on Common Core pedagogy, best practices, classroom applications, and resources.
For more information about upcoming NCTA seminars, please see the NCTA seminar Web page.
The 2016 Lotus Blossoms World Bazaar took place on Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2 at Binford Elementary School in Bloomington, IN. The first day was set aside for Bloomington-area fourth graders with an estimated 1,400 children attending. On Saturday, everyone, young and old, was able to attend the Family Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for international music, crafts, games, and other fun activities. The East Asian Studies Center, with help from our wonderful volunteers and outreach staff, hosted origami and fan-making activities.
EASC volunteers, in addition to assisting with activities, also shared their experience and knowledge of East Asia with children and adults alike at the EASC table. For more information, visit the Lotus Blossoms web site.
On February 27, the 2016 Japanese Olympiad of Indiana, which is co-sponsored by EASC and the Association of Indiana Teachers of Japanese, was held at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. The event had another successful year with Valparaiso High School taking home the state championship. The students were tested on their Japanese knowledge in several categories including culture, language, and history for this academic competition.
A total of forty-one teams competed in the Olympiad representing twelve schools across the state. Students were divided based on their years of experience in the Japanese language (second-year, third-year, and fourth-year). The Valparaiso High School team placed first in the fourth-year division, Chesterton High School won the third-year division, and Indianapolis North Central High School took home the second-year division championship.
The Olympiad also included a musical performance and a kendo demonstration to make the event both a learning and entertaining cultural experience.
Congratulations to all participants from EASC! We look forward to next year’s competition.
In April, EASC and the Association of Indiana Teachers of Japanese cosponsored “Technology in Japanese Language Education: A Workshop for K16 Teachers” on the IUPUI campus. 18 instructors of Japanese from across the state of Indiana gathered to learn about classroom applications of technology and digital resources useful for teaching and learning Japanese.
Dr. Kazumi Hatasa (Purdue University) delivered the keynote address on IT applications developed at Purdue in Japanese. He also led the hands-on session, where participants had the opportunity to learn ARIS, a user-friendly, open-source platform for creating and playing mobile games, tours and interactive stories.
Other presenters included Molly Jeon (Bloomington North) and Keiko Kuriyama (IUPUI), who introduced the digital Japanese textbook they are co-authoring; Elizabeth Bays (North Carroll), who explained Universal Design for Learning; and Atsushi Fukuda (Purdue), Mariko Wei (Purdue), and Kazumi Matsumoto (Ball State), who reported on the online textbook for secondary learners that they are developing together.
In addition to sharing teaching ideas, participants also earned a certificate of participation that could be used for professional growth points.
Return to top of page >Opening of Korea Conference Room
On April 9th in the Global and International Studies Building, EASC and the Korean Students Association (KSA) hosted a Spring Festival to commemorate the coming installation of the Korea Conference Room (한국의 방), a Korean Studies resource room funded by the Korean Consulate in Chicago. The conference room will be equipped with audio-visual materials, books, videos, and other resources to support the teaching of Korean language, culture, and society. The conference room will be open to the public and K12 teachers, and we look forward to its completion in time for the fall semester. Details on the official opening ceremony will be emailed in late summer.
Return to top of page >NCTA Enrichment: Sijo Workshop
In April, two dozen educators from around the country joined NCTA at Indiana University and the Sejong Cultural Society for a two day enrichment in Glenview, IL. The event, titled Sijo Workshop: Korean Poetry, Literature, Music, and Dance, introduced K12 educators to sijo, a poetic form that flourished during the Joseon dynasty and is still written today. Saturday presenters included David McCann (Emeritus Professor, Harvard University), who led sessions on sijo history and composition; Lucy Park (Executive Director, Sejong Cultural Society), who gave an overview of Korean history, and Elizabeth Jorgensen (English teacher, Arrowhead Union High School), who introduced strategies for teaching sijo in the high school classroom.
Participants also had the chance to sample Korean cuisine while enjoying to the sijo-infused beats of Elephant Rebellion, a collective of artists that empower communities through the power of arts & education. An evening performance by SoriBeat, a Chicago-based samulnori group, rounded out Saturday’s schedule
The workshop concluded with Sunday sessions on modern Korean literature led by Ohio State University Professor Chan Eung Park. Park also led participants in singing a sijo. Reception of the workshop was overwhelmingly positive, with participants praising the “excellent balance of cultural/historical information about sijo as well as Korean history, literature, and language.”
Teachers who participated received a certificate for professional development and will be eligible for mini-grants to purchase classroom resources.
Return to top of page >EASC at Asianfest 2016!
On Saturday, April 16, next to the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market, Asian Fest blossomed with an abundance of performances and cultural activities for all ages. The event, which took place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., welcomed families of the Bloomington community to experience different Asian cultures. The annual event was sponsored by The IU Asian Culture Center, the City of Bloomington Safe and Civil Program, and the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market.
Attendees were constantly engaged during the event. Many gathered around the stage for performances that consisted of dances, songs, and martial arts or stopped by the cultural tables. EASC was one of the many tables at the event and was continuously visited throughout the day. Attendees learned about the various Chinese artifacts displayed on the table, such as the Chinese stamp seal, Chinese papercutting, fans, and the evolution of Chinese characters. Visitors excitedly flipped through the pages of a custom made binder by EASC volunteer, Amy Jen, as she happily explained the history of the displayed artifacts. Children who attended the event were able to have their names written in Chinese, enjoyed trying on paper Terracotta masks, and created Japanese origami.
The EASC table was also greeted by Bloomington Mayor, John Hamilton, and his wife. The mayor thanked EASC for participating in the event and sharing our cultural knowledge with the community.