Miiko Matsumoto

Spotlight

-Summer in Sacramento: American Culture and University Enrichment Student, Japan

“Learning and speaking other languages can lead to many new discoveries. For me, it lets me see another point of view.”

Ten high school students from Japan worked on their English skills, went on cool field trips visiting places like an equestrian therapy center, and for two weeks witnessed everyday life in America. They became such familiar faces at the English Language Institute (ELI), instructors and staff alike affectionately called them the Shizuoka 10, named for their home prefecture.

Miiko Matsumoto sent this photo of her high school in Japan.

The teens went through a rigorous selection process in Shizuoka to become the first students to attend Summer in Sacramento: American Culture and University Enrichment at ELI. Among the Shizuoka 10 was 15-year-old Miiko Matsumoto, whose dream is to one day live and work in America.

Miiko spent six years growing up in Atlanta when her dad’s job in Japan was moved overseas. “When I lived over there,” she said, “I wasn’t afraid of making mistakes and was positive in everything I tried.” Returning to Japan eight years ago was a rough transition at times, Miiko recalled, and even today she admits being “a little shy,” afraid of speaking up in class, fearful of making a mistake.

It was during the American Culture and University Enrichment program in the summer of 2017 that she experienced a breakthrough.

“I liked writing a journal entry every night and reading it in front of the class the next day,” said Miiko, delighted and surprised at how much she liked the daily assignment. “By challenging myself to make a little presentation, I think it changed me a bit,” she reflected. “It may feel like something small for others, but for me it was an important thing.”

Not only did her confidence grow, Miiko learned to embrace her inevitable mistakes as part of learning any new language. ”When you’re trying to talk to a native speaker or when you want to explain your ideas in front of people,” she said, “I think it’s more important to just speak the words that come to you at that second and try to tell what you want to tell.”

Miiko’s dream is to become a doctor and live and work in America one day, perhaps in Atlanta. “I love my home country Japan, but I like my second hometown too, the place where I grew up when I was small,” she said. “My parents took me to many places in that beautiful country and let me experience many new things. I want to go back and experience more things.”

If you would like to learn about our different international programs, please visit the English Language Institute webpage or contact the English Language Institute to create customized English language and American culture programs.