JACKSON, Miss. The Wesley Biblical Seminary was chosen as one of 75 institutions to operate supplemental Japanese schools in the as part of the Japan-U.S. Program.
Each week, the institutions hold hoshuko schools where the children of Japanese workers in the U.S. go to school on Saturdays. The project aims to keep students up to speed with Japanese education by teaching them supplemental math and Japanese language classes.
"They need to keep up with Japanese skills and math skills," said Sachiko Osanai, 27, who is among a group of Japanese seminary students providing instruction.
According to the Rev. Paul Tashiro, a United Methodist minister and academic dean of Wesley, the relatively small number of Japanese can make a child feel isolated and lonely. Tashiro is a Tokyo native who is also professor of Old Testament and biblical languages at the seminary.
To combat the potential loneliness, Tashiro also began Japanese language worship services at the Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson. The worship service another introduction to American tradition is part religious and part social, and offers an opportunity to share with others so far from home.
In Japan, Tashiro pointed out, "they will never darken the door of the church." In Mississippi, he says, "They found a place to talk about each other. That itself is really help for everybody."