Published: July 2, 2012

For the fifteenth year, the Program for Teaching East Asia at the Center for Asian Studies continued the "It's Elementary" Service Project, an internship course designed to provide CU students studying Japan, China and India with an opportunity to share their knowledge about Asia with elementary students in Boulder Valley.  Six undergraduates--three for Japan, two for China and one for India as well as two Japanese students studying at CU's International English Center--spent spring semester 2012 sharing their expertise in Chinese, Japanese and Indian languages and cultures with kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade students in Boulder Valley Schools.  The interns for 2012 were, for China: Jarid Kahn, Joseph Purmort; for Japan: Katrina Zimmerman, Nichole Anderson, Cameron Doran; and for India: Renee Nabors.  The IEC international volunteers were: Ryota Yuguchi and Kumiko Terada, both from Japan.  The students began their internship in January with several training and lesson development sessions with CAS/TEA staff members Julie Kang, Amy Zader and Jessica Moy.

Katrina Zimmerman, one of the three Japan interns and a senior majoring in Japanese, says this experience taught her "the importance of teaching about Asia to American students."  She writes, "I noticed that studying Asia plays one of two roles.  First, it introduces Asian culture and language to American students so it no longer seems foreign or confusing, as well as excites their interest in the subject and brings it home with them.  In one class I visited, a student--on her own initiative--connected her love of birds to Japan by researching Japanese birds to share with the class.  This allowed her to show her classmates the kinds of birds that come from Japan and also teach them about the national bird, which had previously been featured in a story book they read.  In another class, a boy brought the culture home when he persuaded his mother to buy chopsticks for the family.  Second, it connects students with an Asian background to their ancestry and gives them a chance to share their own experience and knowledge with their classmates, as well as find a cultural connection to their studies that would otherwise be missing in the classroom.  In my classes, I had three students who had Japanese ancestry.  Their knowledge and experience of their heritage varied, but all three of these students could connect personally with the lessons and share their expertise with their classmates.  Through them I realized how important it is to teach multiculturalism to students because it mutually benefits both groups."

The internship course (ASIA 4930) will be offered again in Spring 2013.  For more information about participating in the program as an intern or requesting an intern for your elementary classroom, please contact Julie Kang at