"Ways of greeting are very much different..."


Celebrating Our Diversity

But we Japanese
do not say that...

Isamu: Hi teams, I write from Japan, first I'd like to write to Adri for a late reply. Sorrrrrrrrry!

Adri: First I thought ISAMU was a female name... Don't be angry...please... In other Languages it is different and we have no idea of that sometimes... But now I saw you picture and no confusion at all...

Isamu: Yes, names are very much different than others. In 1990, I tried to communicate with overseas students first, my students and I could not find out from their names, it is she or he. So we wrote to ask," you are a girl or a boy?" This was also the first subject for the States students. At that time I started to use CompuServe with Montana's elementary school. Oh, I have a story to have to tell all. Early in March, Mr. Tanaka who is a asistant profesor in Osaka, visited the States to join the conference in Santafe. He met a person whose name is Synthia Denton. Now she works in a univercity. I started to communicate with her class in 1990 using CompuServe. We continued for two years and then we could not contact with each other. But the story is, "Why in the States, so large country, Mr. Tanaka could meet with her at the conference. I'm very much surprided to hear the story from Mr.Tanaka in our meeting on March 7.

About on July 1-2, it helds our global conference in Tokyo. It will be invited 8 key persons such as Odd who speaks in public conference. Odd already got his invitation from our organization. I push Patti's name also. Because some more teachers from abroad will be invited to make a presentation from their work in elementary schools or in junior high schools. But it is not dicided yet for the presentators. Sorry for Patti. It needs some more days.

Adri: What about the adaptation of a person from a country as Brazil in your ..country with so differente habits???

Isamu: There are many Brazilian people came to Japan lately and work here. ..But about their children, there are many problem to live in Japanese school and learn with Japanese students. I think it is the problem ..that Japanese educational system is not so good for every child.

Adri: Are you very severe??? How many hours do children keep at school per day?

Isamu: About this matter, I wonder why Japanese education does not change for students first. I visited in New Zealand for the first time in 1992. There students work hard in thier schools. Olympic in Spain, that's the main subject for all grades in the schools at the time. I've heard they continued for a month about that subject. In Japan, even if there held Olympic in Japan, that is not our main subject for schools. Yes, of course some part of the schools would be the subject to work with, but the other all part of schools in Japan, it is only the news to hear and watch from TV.

I though at the time, In New Zealand, what students learn or to do are the main subject to have to study. Teachers help students learning.

So if Brazilian students came from Brazil and stayed in Japan, and go to Japanese school, there are many problems than the other countries, I think.

In my international class, I teach Japanese language from beggining and kanji writing and reading and writing Japanese letters or so. Fortunately we are abe to get financial support from city government. So I can buy things for their Japanese lessons. But maybe there are few to get these things for students another schools in Japan. In our prefecture, if there are five students in a school who have to get help with Japanese language, we are able to make international classroom in our schools. Yes, I am the person in our school who work for two years. OF course I am going to continue my work next school year. I teach them Japanese language, and they teach me some Spanish. It is happy for us too.

On another topic...

Yes, there are some problem to display Japanese on English system running computers. On Netscape, I think probably you'll see Japanese pages.

Adri: I am using Internet Explorer 4.0

Isamu: I am going to use kanji on graphics, so you'll see what it is on your display. If you visit at


you'll see our Japanese entrance pages there even if you have not Japanese fonts.

Drawings on my web pages - almost our students draw for their learning Japanese hours. In my international classroom, there are three Macintosh and students use freely. Some are drawing, and some are writing letters. Of course I set up to the pages later. Students do not make pages for theirselves yet.

Adri: Yes. I know... The first one was made by Chikako? It seems to be her sign... I mean, it has her "signature"... I really love her drawnings...

Isamu: if you visit at


you'll see more art works. Hi!!!!! I might to miss the real address. Sorry. [Isamu gave the correct URL -Patti]

About words of greetings...

Adri: (How can I say "A KISS" in Japanese, Isamu???" doe vesos in Spanish and usually English says, Love and kisses.

Isamu: But we Japanese do not say that. Usually when we see off the friends, we say,
---Dema mata
---colloqual way of saying as Jaane
All mean "Good by" in English.

Adri: WHY NOT???

I will tell you something really funny, dear Isamu... We, from tropical countries, mostly Brazil, have a very special way of loving and showing happiness and care. I hope you'll not misunderstand my words, please... We are very sincere... I mean, we are not afraid of showing joy. I know that you from Asia and Europe have a different way of being. Different cultures...it's natural. But here we send kisses and hugs, we give kisses and show what we feel. We are not discussing if it's right or wrong (these words don't belong here)... But I feel myself sad on seeing that japaneses don't send kisses... I can go on sending, can't I??? Or will you become angry with me??? Please...tell me quickly...

Dema mata

And lots of kisses!!! Muitos beijos!!!

Your friend,

Isamu: Ways of greetings are very much differnt from others too. So this is another subject to talk with students. How they live in the different places, how different they behave.

Oh, I'm so sorry this is too long. and I wrote English after a long absent. I wonder you all understand what I wanted to tell.

It has been even hot lately. Cherry blossoms!! are suddenly blooming.

Thanks for your help,
Isamu Shimazaki

Lynne: Aloha Isamu and Adri :)

What a beautiful exchange you are having, getting beyond the words and the language into the feelings and culture and people behind them :)

I have a favor to ask...may I use some of your email exchange on my Words from the Heart project? I think your letters capture the ideal way we can use the Internet and telecommunications to learn more about each other...

Then we can all send kisses or bows or whatever our country is accustomed to...and share in the joy of communication and community :)


ps--my middle name is "Keiko" which, according to my mother, means "happy"...it contains a kanji character that is also in her name, "Kimiko" and that is also in my daughter's name "Akemi," which was the closest name to capture "wonder" that we could find in Japanese...

that's my belated reponse to Patti's earlier request that we share our names ;)

Ellen: Hello Lynne, and Isamu,

I too, found Isamu's dialogue a true cultural exchange. During our recent visits to the Pacific Region, particularly in Kosrae and Palau, we found many males with Japanese first names like Masaharu, Masa-aki. To my surprise, when I met them, they were Palauans and Kosraens. As it turns out, these men were named after their father's friends during the war.

Another thing I am learning is that we learn about ourselves much more as we begin to exchange ideas. I for one, know my middle name but didn't think much of the meaning until recently as I watched the dicussions such as Isamu's. My middle name is Reiko and I have lived with it for my whole life but never paid much attention to the meaning of it. That is my homework for the week. :-)

Patti: Isamu,

You are wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to write all that English for us. You and Adri are bringing up some very important issues. Our students have chances to meet students from other cultures through a medium that my parents didn't have growing up - I didn't have when I was growing up. It is fantastic and it also gives us opportunities to learn so many things about our different cultures. Our words do not always mean the same things in other languages. We learn what is appropriate and what is not. Recently a student from a Nordic country wrote to a student in North America and said he would like to be in the bath with her. The parents from North America were not happy. The student most likely meant he wanted to "swim" with the girl. Words. They often get in our way.

In some countries using first and last names on the Internet is not a problem. In some - it is. In some countries last names are rarely used at all - Iceland - so our fear of using last names in the USA is not really understood completely. In some countries boys and girls may write to each other; in some countries this is not appropriate. Some friends end their messages with "hugs and kisses;" some end with "best regards."

My heart is warmed every time I look at this page:


Can you guess why?

The Internet is bringing us all closer together. We have much to learn along the way. This is good. This is *so* good.

Warm hugs,

Friends, I found this message from Lars-Erik today which has not found its way here to my web pages yet! I am hanging my head in shame, Lars-Erik. Forgive me, please! Since it is about names I will put it here. - Patti

Lars-Erik: Scanning the messages I came across Darrel's and Adri's exchange about names. I know there was a communications projects called What's in a name. One of the things that has happened in our schools as a result of migration is that there have been many new names appearing in our country. It's funny to see how some cultures are very much aware of the meaning of a name while in others they lay barried in thick layers of old meanings and does not mean a thing to the child that carries it.

Mostly kids can proudly carry their name and no one would make more then the innocent sort of joke that comes from rhyming. Then again like Darrel shows us when he says "they probably thought I acted like some "conqueror from the past." kids can use a name to make a symbol for traits whos the person carrying that name. Since I am a Swede and we usually not dig deep down for the meaning of names most people would not know the meaning of mine. I don't feel like making much fuzz about it either. I haven't even asked my parents what they where thinking of when they named me.

Lars which is the first part of my name comes from an old Swedish word that originally meant "black". I don't mind that since black is a nice not-color. Lynne's daughter Dawn would probably have something to tell you about using it as a background for a website. Erik on the other hand is an imported name with a latin background meaning "ruler". Now I am not much for rulers. I prefer democratic systems. So being named ruler isn't directly in my liking. Being named black. Being named "black ruler" I am sure you can see is a bit too much.

Well my English speaking friends have fortunately never understand this thing about "double names" so they never manage to write more then Lars. Or maybe they know the meaning and are just being nice. Anyway, to them I am mister Black.

Projects on the meaning of Words, like what's in a name are very good international projects. They show how cultures work and they show many connections between cultures such as for instance many of our words have been picked up from Latin, French and English. Sometimes the Nordic people can even pride themselves in having given something back. "Window" is and old Nordic word "vindue". It was left in the British Islands as a result of the viking quests so are not all that proud of the reason but it's nice to see your own culture spreading a bit to.

In these global times it's also a good idea for us to bring out the names in classrooms discussions. We can disarm the fact that names moved to another language setting my get very strange meanings and cause kids to tease each other. We can also look at cultural beliefs like that a name carries the spririt or the character of the holder.

So to sum up the paragraphs above. If you are looking for good themes then projects comparing words and wordmeanings can be something to think about.


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Patricia A. Weeg