On Wednesday, October 18, 2018 the students of Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) received a very special treat, courtesy of the Embassy of Japan. Ka-na (Kana Uemura), a New York City-based Japanese singer-songwriter, visited the school in recognition of the upcoming launch of CHEC’s new Japanese language program. The event was hosted by CHEC principal Maria Tukeva, and was attended by about 50 enthusiastic high school students, many of whom plan to enroll in one of the new Japanese classes scheduled to begin in January 2019.
The Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy, Mr Kazutoshi Aikawa, introduced Ka-na, and also used the occasion to present a blown-up check to Principal Tukeva, representing a salary assistance grant to CHEC from the Japan Foundation in support of its new Japanese language program. Mr. Aikawa presented a second check from the Japan Foundation to Sally Schwartz for continued support of Globalize DC’s afterschool Japanese Plus program.
CHEC students were mesmerized and charmed by Ka-na’s musical performance – both vocals and guitar – held in the high school Library. In 2010, Ka-Na became a national star in Japan with her acoustic ballad, “Toire no Kamisama” or “Goddess of the Bathroom,” a heartfelt and moving song about her memories of her grandmother, which she sang during her afternoon performance. Her repertoire also included her new song, “Happiness,” other Japanese songs, and even a Michael Jackson cover. At the conclusion of her singing, Ka-na warmly answered questions, took photos, and signed autographs with the students. It was a wonderful afternoon. The students can’t wait for Japanese classes to begin!
Columbia Heights Education Campus has hosted Globalize DC’s afterschool Japanese Plus program since fall 2016. Last school year, with an initial grant from the Japan Foundation-Los Angeles, Globalize DC offered a single Japanese I course to CHEC students during the school day. The class quickly reached maximum capacity, and led to CHEC’s decision to build its own Japanese language program, the first of its kind in a DC public school. Globalize DC will continue to work with CHEC as a community partner to nurture and help build community support for a strong Japanese language program that will benefit our city’s young people.
We thank the Embassy of Japan for their ongoing encouragement and support.