NEW YORK – The United Nations International School on Monday received 42 books in Japanese donated by first lady Akie Abe. They will be made available to the 100 or so students studying the language at the school’s Manhattan campus.
Ambassador to the U.N. Motohide Yoshikawa told an audience of students, school officials and parents gathered in the library that he hopes the books will encourage “students of different nationalities to learn Japanese.”
The books range from classics, such as Kenji Miyazawa’s “Night on the Galactic Railroad” and contemporary writer Kiyoshi Shigematsu’s “Knife,” which addresses bullying, to Prime Minister Shinzo Ab’s own volume of political writing, “Atarashii Kunie” (“Toward a New Nation”).
The international school is attended by many children of U.N diplomats and staff.
Shigeta Komatsubara, 17, who was born in Paris and is considering pursuing a career in international relations, said the books will be a valuable resource for students seeking to learn more about his country.
“I think really it helps the UNIS students understand the current state of Japan,” he said.
Dutch student Leenesa Gheneti, who is studying Japanese, said it is sometimes difficult to find books of an appropriate level of difficulty.
“So just having even more sources to use means a lot,” the 17-year-old senior said.
The school’s executive director, Jane Camblin, noted how the Japanese program has grown from an after-school and weekend activity in the 1970s to a full-fledged program in the 1980s. The current intensive program now draws some 100 students, two-thirds of whom are not Japanese.
“I think (the book donation) is the occasion to underline how important our relationship with Japan and with the Japanese ministry of education has been to the school,” she said.
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