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Friday, August 14 • 1:25pm - 1:50pm
Using Overseas Volunteer Program as Tools for Learning Language and Cultural Awareness

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Finding opportunities for intercultural communication can often be quite a challenge. As the world continues to trend toward globalization, however, the importance of understanding and communicating with different cultures becomes more essential each day. Although the English language is considered the primary tool for achieving intercultural communication, learners in countries with a different native language, such as Japan, continually struggle to find opportunities to use it in this way.

In this paper, I'll focus on the effectiveness of an overseas volunteer program offered by Give Kids The World (GKTW,) in Florida, USA, in helping to overcome this problem. This non-profit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses provides an outstanding opportunity for learners of English to broaden their world-view and enhance their language skills by communicating inter-culturally with the children and parents who visit the resort, an amazing experience that is truly rewarding for everyone involved.

Since 2004, when I singlehandedly introduced this program to Japanese learners of English, I have compiled detailed research from over 40 Japanese participants. This paper shares these findings, and sheds light on how the simple act of volunteering in another country can be not only a life-changing experience, but also open ones eyes to the importance of a broader cultural understanding and awareness of key global issues.

The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan was a catastrophic event whose effects are still being felt over 3 years later. One positive outcome of this event is the increased awareness it created for the Japanese, of the significant impact that volunteering can have. The generosity shown to the country of Japan from around the world during this time was immeasurable, and demonstrated the importance of working together towards a shared global awareness, one that is made possible through volunteer programs such as Give Kids The World.


Natsumi Suzuki

Otsuma Women's University

Friday August 14, 2015 1:25pm - 1:50pm EDT
CGIS South S050 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA