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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 00:00

Farewell to Japanese Teacher

Written by  Kok Ling Lin , Melaka / Translated by Ng Say Fen

Teacher Aoki Mikiko passed on her teaching materials, along with her passion, to the new teacher Lee Chin Ming. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

Aoki Mikiko left her job as a Japanese teacher after eight years of teaching due to illness. Volunteers and students from the Japanese class organized a thanksgiving-cum-farewell tea party for her. Teacher Aoki handed over her teaching materials on Jing Si Aphorisms to her replacement, Lee Chin Ming, in the presence of the students and volunteers.


 
On the screen, one could see office workers, housewives, students and public members attending classes at Tzu Chi University Continuing Education Centre after sunset. It also featured Teacher Aoki Mikiko teaching earnestly throughout her 8-year tenure, guiding students on how to wear the kimono, teaching them the odori dance and so on.
 
Passing the baton
 
“My son-in-law Lee Chin Ming will assume as Japanese teacher starting next year,” said Teacher Aoki, as she walked with the aid of a walking stick. Even though she is frail, she insisted on completing the last lesson on November 12, 2014, before handing over all teaching materials to Lee Chin Ming.
 
In 1970, Aoki Mikiko followed her Malaysian husband to reside in Kuala Lumpur. Four years later, they moved to Melaka. In March 2007, she was invited by volunteer Lai Siew Lam to teach Japanese in Melaka’s Continuing Education Centre. With many years of teaching experience, she incorporated a Japanese song and culture into the learning course, besides teaching grammar. She hoped to increase the students’ interest in the Japanese language and strengthen their learning ability. She even reviewed the students ’workbooks literally.
 
She recalled there were only 12 Japanese classes initially, and with one-and-half hours allocated for each lesson, she felt it was not enough. As she had viewed the Japanese language as a comprehensive study, she managed later, and with great effort, to extend it to two hours. She also divided the class into beginner and intermediate classes to make the learning easier. Over the eight years, her class had attracted 232 attendees.
 
Attending the class for the second time, student Chen Li Ping said, “Before this, I can only understand 20% to 30% of the contents in one lesson. By and by, I could figure out half of it; and now I can understand the whole lesson.” Apart from using the Japanese language, Teacher Aoki also communicated in Mandarin, Malay, English, and even Hokkien, to enable students to pick up Japanese within a short time. Li Ping also praised Teacher Aoki’s professionalism as she still marked each student’s homework attentively despite being unwell.
 
Teacher Aoki is dearly loved by her students, who consider her a mentor and a friend. The students had often visited her at her house and had been out together with her.
 
Standing by you
 
In August 2014, Teacher Aoki experienced severe dizziness and was subsequently diagnosed with fluid retention in her lungs. In September, her medical report revealed that she had breast cancer. As she had to be treated in hospital frequently, the Japanese class had to be postponed whenever she underwent treatment, and this had affected the students’ learning progress. Feeling sorry for her students, Teacher Aoki then decided to ask her son-in-law to replace her.
 
When the former and current students learnt of her illness, they took turns to accompany their teacher and gave her encouragement. “I felt sad when I was alone,” said Teacher Aoki. Despite the frequent visits by students and volunteers to take her mind off her illness, she still felt depressed when she was alone at night.
 
Volunteer Lindy Lee got to know Teacher Aoki since March 2014. As she stays close to her house, she always sends Teacher Aoki to class, prepares dinner for her and rings her up regularly. “Teacher Aoki likes to eat noodles and ice cream, hence I will try to prepare such food for her.”
 
 
At the thanksgiving-cum-farewell event, Teacher Aoki requested Lindy Lee to help buy some fruits for her students and volunteers. Even though Teacher Aoki is no longer teaching, she will be remembered, particularly for her humour and passion in teaching. All present wished Teacher Aoki’s good health and they are looking forward to meeting her again.
 
 
With her passion in teaching, Teacher Aoki had taught Japanese in a foreign land, benefiting those who are keen to learn. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Teacher Aoki had incorporated a Japanese song and culture into the learning course, making the language easier to learn. [Photograph by Tzu Chi Melaka’s Historical Archival & Research Team]

With her passion in teaching, Teacher Aoki had taught Japanese in a foreign land, benefiting those who are keen to learn. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
Teacher Aoki had incorporated a Japanese song and culture into the learning course, making the language easier to learn. [Photograph by Tzu Chi Melaka’s Historical Archival & Research Team]
 
Teacher Aoki successfully strived for an extension to the class, from one-and-half hours to two hours. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Volunteer Lindy Lee (2nd left) offered to prepare dinner for Teacher Aoki. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

Teacher Aoki successfully strived for an extension to the class, from one-and-half hours to two hours. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
 
Volunteer Lindy Lee (2nd left) offered to prepare dinner for Teacher Aoki. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
Student Chen Li Ping praised Teacher Aoki for her professionalism in teaching. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]    

Student Chen Li Ping praised Teacher Aoki for her professionalism in teaching. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]