Haruko Yuda, Japanese Outreach Coordinator for the University of Virginia's Asia Institute, will present a lecture about Japanese popular culture and food from 2-3 p.m. on Wednesday at Virginia Western Community College’s Natural Science Center. The talk is free and open to the public, and Japanese snacks will be provided.
Over the summer, Virginia Western faculty hear Yuda present as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Asia Insitute at the University of Virginia. She is now bringing her grassroots educational outreach program to the children of Fishburn Park Elementary School in Roanoke City as well as to the larger community at Virginia Western.
“Working at the grassroots level is really important to build good relations with other countries,” Yuda said. As part of her job as outreach coordinator, Yuda visits schools and community events to teach Americans about Japanese culture.
“When students see me, sometimes they are really surprised and excited,” said Yuda, who for many of these children is the first Japanese person they have ever met. She has taught students of all ages about Japanese culture, from traditional ceremonies to how to make origami or write their names in Japanese.
Yuda arrived in the United States in early August 2012 as a part of the Japan Outreach Initiative, sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the Laurasian Institution. The program seeks to develop collaboration between Japan and the United States by fostering a deeper appreciation of each country at the grassroots level. Virginia is one of the three universities and one nonprofit selected in 2012 to participate in the program.