Anne T. Dunphy kindergarten class gets visit from Japanese diplomatic representative

  • Caleb Kelly Nadacci, a kindergartner in Robin Gurdak-Foley's class at the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, works on making a samurai hat while Sumiko Otsuka, from the Consulate General of Japan in Boston, works with Sunali Driver as part of a unit on Japan. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • Spencer LaPointe, a kindergartner in Robin Gurdak-Foley's class at the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, trys on a hat he made during a visit from Sumiko Otsuka, from the Consulate General of Japan in Boston. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • Sumiko Otsuka, from the Consulate General of Japan in Boston, works with Caleb Kelly Nadacci, a kindergartner in Robin Gurdak-Foley's class at the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, as part of a unit on Japan. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • Sunali Driver, a kindergartner in Robin Gurdak-Foley's class at the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, works on making a samurai hat Thursday while Sumiko Otsuka, from the Consulate General of Japan in Boston, works with with another student as part of a unit on Japan. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Sumiko Otsuka, from the Consulate General of Japan in Boston, works with Spencer LaPointe, a kindergartner in Robin Gurdak-Foley's class at the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, to write his name in Japanese. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • Natasha Harris , a kindergartner in Robin Gurdak-Foley's class at the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, works on writing her name in Japanese during a visit from Sumiko Otsuka, from the Consulate General of Japan in Boston. —CAROL LOLLIS

  • Spencer LaPointe, a kindergartner in Robin Gurdak-Foley's class at the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, works on writing his name in Japanese during Otsuka’s visit Thursday. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

For the Gazette
Published: 4/12/2018 9:47:52 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — In anticipation of a visit from a representative of the Japanese Consulate in Boston, kindergarten students at the Anne T. Dunphy School began their day Thursday by helping to raise a traditional Japanese “carp streamer” to the school’s flagpole to welcome their guest.

Sumiko Otsuka, a senior project manager of informational and cultural affairs at the consulate, gave a 90-minute presentation on Japanese culture to the kindergarten class.

Dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono, Otsuka hit on subjects including her country’s geography, education, climate, traditions and writing.

Teacher Robin Gurdak-Foley said the presentation was valuable for her students because it helped expose them to a different culture and way of thinking.

“With the internet, children today are growing up in an age where the world is getting smaller and smaller,” Gurdak-Foley said. “I think it’s important for them to learn early on that there are other ways of doing things and that there are many possibilities and avenues out there for them.”

Otsuka’s presentation included two interactive elements. Using Japanese newspapers, the students made origami samurai hats. Otsuka also brought printouts of each of the students’ names written in Japanese for them to copy with paint and bring home.

Gurdak-Foley said she thought her students were receptive to the presentation and seemed excited to participate and hear from Otsuka.

Otsuka is originally from Tokyo, and began working at the consulate in Boston in 2005. She said she does similar presentations about four or five times a month across New England, and presented to Gurdak-Foley’s class about five years ago.

For Gurdak-Foley’s students, Thursday’s presentation was just one part of a broader unit on Japanese culture that began after February vacation. As part of the kindergarten curriculum, the class always participates in one immersive unit on another culture that runs between the February and April vacations.

“The unit is really about zeroing in on having respect for all other people and cultures,” Gurdak-Foley.

Although the unit is not based on Japanese culture every year, Gurdak-Foley said she’s partial to it because of her extensive training in East Asian education.

The class has been learning basic greetings, history, traditions and other Japanese customs.

Gurdak-Foley said her students were “over the moon excited” when they learned how to use chopsticks, and enjoyed learning the words to a Japanese song called “Sakura,” meaning cherry blossoms.

Before the presentation, the students recited the song as a welcome gesture with the help of two sixth-graders playing brass instruments.


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