International students and KU-SGU

Learning amid a complete education system, a comfortable environment,
and thorough support in Kanazawa,
which combines traditional and state-of-the-art culture.

*KU-SGU Tandem Program*
College of Science and Engineering / Graduate School of Human and Socio-Environmental Studies

Malainine Ebnou / TERAO Akira

In April 2021, KU-SGU Student Staff launched a new program called “KU-SGU TANDEM Program.” In this program, Japanese students and international students are paired up to enjoy conversations both in English and Japanese as well as cultural exchanges on a one-to-one basis, so that they can built closer friendship than exchanges in groups. We interviewed Mr. Akira Terao (1st year student of School of Math and Physics, College of Science and Engineering) and Mr. Malainine Ebnou (1st year Doctoral student of Graduate School of Human and Socio-Environmental Studies) who had become best friends through this program.


-First of all, Malainine, you are from Mauritania and you chose Kanazawa as a place to pursue a PhD. What made you decide to come to this city?

Malainine: I had been interested in Japanese culture because it is very unique owing to it being surrounded by the sea. The reason why I chose Kanazawa is it’s a historical city like Kyoto and I thought that I could see and experience traditional Japanese culture.

-So, you’d been interested in Japanese culture before you came to Japan. Next, I want to ask you two why you participated in the KU-SGU TANDEM Program.

Akira: I have wanted the experience to talk with international students because I didn’t have such opportunities in high school. Also, I thought that taking part in this program would be good practice for studying abroad in the near future.

Malainine: First, I wanted someone to talk with, especially someone who can teach me Japanese.  Second, I wanted to have a Japanese friend to make this stay more valuable.

-That is wonderful! Were you actually able to achieve what you wanted for this program?

Malainine: Yes, I think more than I expected. Every week we see each other in person and go to sightseeing places in Kanazawa city such as Oumi-cho market. Actually, we have visited almost all of the sightseeing places in Kanazawa together. Sometimes Akira taught me some Japanese words and Japanese culture. It never happens if I go there alone, and I think it makes it easier for international students to get used to staying here and understand Japanese culture, so I really appreciate him.  Through sharing the same experience, we have become really good friends and always have so much to talk about.

Akira: I just came to Kanazawa for the first time in my life this April, so it is a special experience for me as well to know about “Kanazawa”, the place where we study. Also, when we go somewhere, we often share what we think about that place, which is a valuable experience because I didn’t have such an opportunity in high school. Now spending time with him is a good break from studying

-You two look so close!  How did you become best friends?

Malainine: I think the reason is that we regard this program as a way to make casual friends. Actually, the first time we met, he invited me to his house to plant tomatoes together.  I was surprised by that, but because of his friendliness it wasn’t hard for me to become friends with him.

Akira: I think the reason is that we share the same interests in Japanese culture.  That is why we can always really enjoy whenever we go to traditional sightseeing places here.

-As a participant, what did you get from this program?

Malainine: Talking with someone from a different culture makes you stronger and more confident in talking with people you do not know, even though you cannot speak the language perfectly and if the cultural background is also different. I believe this experience is going to be a good asset for him too when he goes to study abroad.

Akira: That’s true. I’ve come to think more positively about my studying abroad through this experience. Talking with him is a good practice for that. At the same time, he is my best friend, and we have fun talking, so I want to keep this up and enjoy practicing.

-It is good to hear for us that you are satisfied with each other in TANDEM! Finally, do you have any messages to encourage the students who are now interested in the KU-SGU TANDEM?

Malainine: I think this is an easier opportunity for international students to make Japanese friends and get used to Japanese culture. You should just meet your partner face-to-face at least once, then you will find similarities between you and your partner such as hobbies or interests.

Akira: I recommend this program to those who want to interact with international students. KU-SGU TANDEM Team Staff were willing to work hard and devise ways to help us, even in this COVID-19 situation. For example, they offered us some events such as the first online meeting and a photo competition for the participants to be able to meet and talk with their partners. Also, if you think you are not good at speaking English now, I think having a positive attitude to talk with your partner is more important. If you are friendly enough to talk with them, I promise you will be a good friend with your partner and your English will improve a lot.

(Interviewed by KU-SGU Student Staff TANDEM Team, Akane Kitamura and Haruto Nakayama in August 2021)

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