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Faculty and students from Taiwan and Japan practice international collaborative learning and work together to create regional revitalization in Nayoro City


To cultivate international cross-domain talents, National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU), University Social Responsibility Project - "Transitions toward Sustainability: The Glocalization Practice of the City as a Commuseum," Tunghai University and Nayoro City University in Hokkaido, Japan, have launched cross-domain and regional collaboration courses across borders. In addition to holding online joint classes among the three universities, the Taiwanese faculty and students also went to Nayoro City to promote regional collaboration and cultural exchanges. In addition to meeting with local schools, organizations, youth farmers, and other units, students also introduced Taiwan's religion, food, local culture, etc., in citizen culture lectures, provided tourism service proposals to the Nayoro City Office, and assisted the Japan Nayoro Sight-seeing & Town planning Association in the Chinese translation of the guide brochure to implement the practice of international collaborative learning and university social responsibility.

Yi-Shin Wu, Assistant Professor of the Center for General Education of Si Wan College at NSYSU, has led students from the "Japan-international volunteer" service-learning course to Nayoro City in the past. In 2020, Si Wan College and Nayoro City signed a memorandum of understanding on regional revitalization and international connections. Although the visit was postponed due to the epidemic, NSYSU faculty and students collected supplies and sent them to Nayoro City during the difficult epidemic, establishing friendships between the two sides. They maintained a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) with Nayoro City University during this period. With the end of the epidemic, to restart on-site service learning, Yi-Shin Wu at NSYSU, director of the Department of Japanese Language and Culture of Tunghai University Yusan Chang, the General Education Section of the Faculty of Health and Welfare Science of Nayoro City University Professor Martin Meadows and Associate Professor Masashi Konno, and the exchange promotion department head of Nayoro City Office Pei-Chi Li held many online meetings to discuss and jointly design this cross-universities international service-learning course.

Before going to Japan to serve, the Taiwanese students first completed an 18-week course on campus. They not only learned the basic situation and problems faced by Nayoro City but also formed a cross-universities team with students from the Department of Japanese Language and Culture of Tunghai University and Nayoro City University to work together. They conceived a service plan for Nayoro City online and prepared citizen lectures and high school exchange lesson plans in groups. Nayoro City Mayor Takeshi Kato also came to Taiwan during the semester to discuss courses and practical plans with NSYSU and Tunghai University faculty and students.

During their arrival in Nayoro City to carry out service activities, Taiwanese students had in-depth cultural exchanges with students from Nayoro City University, Hokkaido Nayoro High School, Hokkaido Nayoro Sangyo High School, and Hokkaido Bifuka High School, including presentations in Japanese and English on topics such as Taiwan's religion, food, and festival culture. The faculty and student team also assisted the Nayoro City Council of Social Welfare in organizing a "Toy Park" targeting young children and introducing Taiwanese children's toys. The team also held a public lecture on "Taiwanese New Year Customs" at the Nayoro Community Culture Center. This event coincided with the Taipei Municipal Zhongshan Junior High School faculty and students' educational trip to Nayoro, and they also joined in to introduce the Lunar New Year customs to Nayoro citizens. The lecture site was decorated as a New Year Shopping Area, inviting citizens to write Spring Festival couplets, eat New Year snacks, and play scratch-off games. It was a lively event and was well received by the public and reported by the Japanese media. In addition, to understand the sightseeing highlights of Nayoro City, which is famous for the best snow quality in Japan, the students also experienced winter snow activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, and curling, visited the Nayoroshi Kitaguni Museum, and learned knowledge about life in the extreme cold places that are difficult to imagine in Taiwan, as well as observed the moon and Saturn with a reflecting telescope at Kitasubaru Astronomical Observatory.

With the strong support of Nayoro City’s exchange promotion department, students also received valuable opportunities to communicate with local young farmers. Faculty and students personally harvested Hoshizora Yukimi Spinach grown by young farmers, cooked with local specialties, and talked about the various challenges young people face when returning home and relocating. Students also used their expertise to assist in the Chinese translation of the Nayoro Sight-seeing & Town planning Association’s guide brochure and proposed service proposals at the achievement presentation meeting, such as planning overnight stargazing activities at the Astronomical Observatory and developing the Nayoro City mascot snowball clip.

Yi-Shin Wu said that the course systematically covers the entire process, from online collaborative learning, group design service content, on-site implementation and experiential learning, team reflection and discussion, to achievement display and personal reflection. This method not only breaks through the traditional labor-oriented service-learning model but also promotes the overall development of students. Min-Chen Tsai, a third-year NSYSU's Program in Interdisciplinary Studies student raised in a grandparenting family, reported that she had felt the difference between urban and rural education since she was a child. She was also afraid of international exchanges. However, after this course experience, she successfully stepped out of her comfort zone. She said, "In the future, I want to pay more active attention to the issues of inequality in educational resources and the spirit of regional revitalization in the SDGs." Yi-Shin Wu pointed out that the English proficiency of NSYSU students combined with the language expertise of the Department of Japanese Language and Culture students of Tunghai University made the study of local issues in Nayoro City, as well as communication and exchange with the city government, students, and citizens, more effective. It has substantially promoted the practice of collaborative regional revitalization between Taiwan and Japan, bringing substantial benefits to the local area. At the same time, it has broadened students' international horizons and cross-field innovation capabilities. This new type of international service-learning course model will continue to be developed.
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