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NEWSLETTERS

JANUARY 2007


  Mr. Assi was born in the Ivory Coast, holds a master's degree in International Relations and has taught Economics at the City University of New York. As a non-fiction writer, he has also published various books. At the same time, Mr. Assi's avocation is ballroom dancing, and as a dancer he has been featured in various publications such as The New York Times.


Connection to Tenri Cultural Institute
By Victorien A. Assi

With Hanae Nishimura in front of the Main Sanctuary


  It all began in the Fall of 2005 in the Computer Room of LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York where I have been teaching Economics. I struck up a conversation with a young man who happened to be affiliated with Tenri Cultural Institute; in fact that young man was an instructor at Tenri.

  When I let him know about my enthusiasm about the Japanese language, he recommended me to find out about the courses that were available (offered to) beginners. I heeded the young manís recommendation by going to 43A on West 13th Street between 5th Avenue and Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan. When I arrived at the institute, I was impressed by the warm welcome the staff and instructors have shown.
  One the successful methods of the educational division of the school was to give a placement test to new students who want to take Japanese classes at Tenri; this is meant to evaluate the levels of the new students and to better place them in the appropriate classes or levels. So I went through the process and I was placed in a beginnerís class. The instruction has been incisive, the teachers have been helpful and they have always lent caring attention to their students; all this, of course, fosters the learning of the Japanese language. I completed my first year with a noticeable improvement in my ability to make sentences in Japanese without having to use the dictionary. In my second year of study at Tenri I related to my teachers my plans to go to Japan for a few weeks vacation. The Director of the Institute, Rev. Okui, had personally put me in touch with, Hanae sensei, a former staff who was then living in Tenri City, Japan.

Enjoying the atmosphere in Jiba

  Upon arrival I visited the city. Located near Nara (the Cultural Capital) Tenri City is surrounded by mountains on a flat and agreeable land. It was in this area that I have observed the altruism, kindness, and warmth of the inhabitants. I have seen the devotion, dedication of the Tenri City dwellers. I had the opportunity to visit the Sanctuary and walked through the pavilions and the rooms of this magnificent house of worship. I later visited the Museum near Tenri High School and the University across the way from the Sanctuary. Accompanied by Hanae sensei, the tour and the visit of these places allowed me to learn further about Japanese history, culture and heritage; this confirms the cultural and religious forces that Tenri represents for Japan and for East Asia.

  The pleasant atmosphere and the hospitable attitudes of young and older people had increased my appreciation of the place and that ignited desire to return to Tenri for the second time.
I must also mention that with the JR Rail Pass, I was able to visit and stay for a day or two in the following cities: Otaru, Sapporo, Hakodate, Tokyo, Nagoya (where I went to the Aichi Expo), Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji, Osaka, Hiroshima, Hakata, and Nagasaki. Of all the places I had visited, Kyoto and Tenri remain the most memorable places, which I plan to visit again when I go to Japan in the near future.

  Tenri Cultural Institute has also been supportive in many other ways. For example when I published my novel (The Crossroads) Rev. Okui and his assistant Michael Yuge have allowed me to use the their cultural space for my second book signing (the first book signing being at New York Hilton and Towers).
With this connection and possibility bridging cultures, I would recommend Tenri the beginners and advanced language learner. Tenri will also top my list of recommendation to people who aspire to learn and discover and to those who want to prop up their Japanese language and learn about the society and culture as well.

 

     
 

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