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Learn Japanese at the Harrison Public Library

HARRISON, N.Y. – Naoko Shindo moved to Harrison in 2004 and quickly embraced the thriving Japanese community in town. Shindo now feels the time is right to start teaching both the Japanese language and culture to anyone interested.

“There are many Japanese students in all of the schools in town,” Shindo said. “A lot of non-Japanese kids hear the language from their friends and they are interested in it.”

But Japanese may be harder to learn for an English speaker compared to languages such as French, Italian or Spanish due to the different alphabet and pronunciations Japanese uses. Still, Shindo said that it is not difficult to teach it because children are very quick to pick up on it.

“It all depends on the children,” Shindo said. “Some are more interested in writing it while others are more interested in speaking. I like their reaction to what they are studying when they understand the meaning of what it is they are being taught.”

But the class will not only be about learning how to speak and write the Japanese language; it will also incorporate elements of Japanese culture. Shindo said that she and other Japanese people in Harrison have embraced the American tradition and now want to give back to the community by showing them what their culture has to offer.

“This community really accepts us and I feel that this is a good opportunity to show our appreciation back,” Shindo said.

Harrison Public Library Director Galina Chernykh called the opportunity given to residents to learn Japanese “fantastic” adding that when she first started in her current position back in July 2011 she noticed that Harrison is an “open-minded” community.

“There is a huge Japanese community living here,” Chernykh said. “According to the latest census both the Hispanic and Japanese populations in Harrison have doubled over the past 10 years. Our Japanese community tries to learn our language and customs but how much do we know about Japanese culture? Not that much.”

The class will be held on Saturday, March 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the Harrison Public Library for anyone who is interested. Admission is free and kids must be in at least the third grade to take part.

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