Thanks to a grant from the Japan Foundation, Washougal will continue to be the only district in Clark County to offer middle school level Japanese classes.
The salary assistance grant was presented at an Oct. 6 ceremony by Hiroshi Furusawa, consul general of Japan in Portland, to Dawn Tarzian, Washougal School District superintendent.
“Learning the Japanese language and about Japanese culture is very significant for students,” said Furusawa. “It is important for our two countries to understand each other. We have very different cultures, history and our languages are very different.
“However, we are close allies and both countries want a peaceful world. The more people who can speak our languages, the more people are able to communicate. This will help to build a stronger alliance and stronger friendships.”
Shoko Parker is a Japanese teacher at Washougal High School and Jemtegaard. She also organizes a popular cultural festival at the high school every spring.
“In Clark County, we are the only school district providing a Japanese program from middle school to high school,” Parker said. “This makes Washougal very unique. My Japanese students at JMS enjoy the challenging yet fun class, and they became interested in learning Japanese at the high school after taking the class.”
Before the grant was announced, the district had decided to focus its funding to meet the “growing need,” of high school students who want to take Japanese.
“We are so pleased to receive the grant, which will provide the resources to make it possible to increase the program in the high school as well as retain the middle school program,” Tarzian said.
According to Parker, there are more than 100 Japanese companies operating in the Portland area, providing more than 5,000 jobs.
“These young students need to be prepared to work and communicate with the next generation who are already culturally diverse and have acquired various perspectives,” Parker explained. “These social elements are urgently essential to survive in the global economy.”