When I was teaching Japanese at the University of California, Davis, I met many new students every September. In my daily interactions with them, I got to learn a lot about the new generation firsthand. When the entire campus integrated computer technology and the internet became the primary way of being informed, I witnessed how quickly communication transformed among young adults. Beforehand, the library was a place for students to find resources in order to write reports, but the use of books as a source of information has diminished over the years. Students began to seek more convenient methods. By using the internet and computers, information was more accessible for them when needed. Then, the progression of cellular phones accelerated. I’ll never forget the day I was so surprised that I no longer needed to walk out of my office to make a copy in the copying room. All I had to do was to take a picture of what I wrote on a piece of paper to share it with a student who came in to ask a question.
When I began to work on the topic of the Japanese in Siberia, I was going to translate the materials and publish it. However, it dawned on me that making a web page was the best method in order to disseminate the information on an international scale since communication methods have drastically changed. I was also aware that the younger generation preferred mediums such as video and music, not just reading. That’s why I thought creating a web page consisting of various mediums that were also easily accessible was worth a try. I also took into consideration that the younger generation likes everything at their fingertips, such as using the internet on their phones to learn new things.
That did not mean I had all the technical knowledge to make it happen, but I was very fortunate to be in the environment of a campus where I could find necessary support. At the beginning stage, while I was generating a plan, there were professional colleagues who came forward to hold meetings with me. Also, among students who attended my Japanese language classes, there were students whose majors were in computer technology, students who were fluent in Russian, or with students with special interest in maps. I asked some tutors who were exchange students from Japan to type in the Japanese information. Most of it was done under the category of campus work with compensation, but some volunteered their time when they heard the purpose of my work. I asked them to help scan drawings. From time to time, I brought Japanese food from home and had a good time with them. What brought us together was the wish for world peace and a care for others. I felt I was a part of a team where the difference of language, culture, age, and occupation didn’t matter. It made me feel truly grateful and fortunate that I was able to come to the US. The gentle and warm support of these wonderful people helped me push forward with my project.