By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Needham’s Center at the Heights has become a hotspot for students of Showa Boston. On Monday, November 18, students from Showa, a women’s university n Tokyo, Japan, arrived for their weekly visit. Showa Boston is a Japanese language and culture center, which has taken on the role as a bridge between America and Japan, promoting global awareness, international understanding, and intercultural dialogue within and beyond the Boston community.
After arriving from Boston, the students, led by Ann Dermarderosian, headed to the cafeteria. The students began their visit discussing how they would spend their remaining visits at the Center at the Heights. Previous groups from the school had used their time to teach visitors something about Japanese culture, such as songs and origami. As they discussed what they wanted to do, a visitor brought over a tray of seasonal cookies. “You had a long walk, so you’re entitled to some cookies,” he joked, setting the tray down on the table.
Following their discussion, the girls were invited to hear the final few songs of the concert taking place next door. Merging in with the already settled audience, the girls took their seats and tried to understand a few American folk songs they hadn’t heard before. Following the end of the concert, the visiting Showa students helped pick up chairs. “They’re such nice girls,” commented one onlooker.
After the concert, the students were introduced to the musicians. As they learned a bit more about American music, the students were also introduced to popular American slang. “Do you know the word ‘townie’?” asked one of the musicians. The girls replied that they didn’t. After having the word explained to them - someone who has lived in a town for a long time with deep roots - the students took notes on the word’s spelling, and asked for usage examples.
Following the concert, the girls returned to the cafeteria, where they were given more cookies and interacted with some of the visitors. This time, the girls were each given a cup of eggnog to try. With a general agreement that it didn’t taste like anything they’d sampled before, the girls switched to enjoying some pizzelles.
Regulars at the Center at the Heights have become used to the students during their weekly Monday visits. “Hello girls, oh you’ve gotten taller I think, just since last week,” greeted one senior familiar with the students. The students greeted the seniors with smiles.
“It’s a very good intercultural and intergenerational exposure,” said Ann Dermarderosian. Visitors at the Center got the chance to learn about Japanese culture, while the students were able to flex their language muscles and learn about their host country. The Showa students left the Center with a better understanding of some popular slang and some popular desserts - not to mention a newly-formed opinion on eggnog.