Turning Japanese – former Hartlepool pupil returns to old school to promote Asian education

Manor students (left to right) Callum Reed, Victoria Cranney, Rebecca Blackwood, Joel Dawson, Annalise Briscoe and Tamsin Ballingall taking part in the Yukata workshop during the Japan Day at St Hild's School in connection with Doshisha University.
Manor students (left to right) Callum Reed, Victoria Cranney, Rebecca Blackwood, Joel Dawson, Annalise Briscoe and Tamsin Ballingall taking part in the Yukata workshop during the Japan Day at St Hild's School in connection with Doshisha University.

A FORMER Hartlepool pupil returned to her old school for a special event aimed at promoting the benefits of studying in Japan.

Gill Steel, a lecturer at Doshisha University in the city of Kyoto, visited St Hild’s Church of England School in King Oswy Drive, Hartlepool, to raise awareness of educational opportunities in Japan and to provide an insight into life there.

Gill Steel, formerly from Hartlepool and a lecturer at Doshisha University at the Japan Day held in St Hild's School in connection with Doshisha University.

Gill Steel, formerly from Hartlepool and a lecturer at Doshisha University at the Japan Day held in St Hild's School in connection with Doshisha University.

Gill completed her O-levels studies at Henry Smith School in 1982 – the school has since been demolished and replaced by St Hild’s.

She gave a presentation to students from schools across the town before they took part in a series of Japanese-themed workshops in the Northern Lights Academy next to the main school building.

The workshops gave students the chance to learn some basics of the Japanese language and try their hand at Japanese calligraphy, origami, braiding, manga drawing and haiku poetry. They were also able to try on traditional yukatas or summer cotton kimonos.

Gill, a lecturer at the Institute for the Liberal Arts at Doshisha University, said: “When I finished college I wanted to live abroad and do something different, so I went to Japan and I have never looked back. I’m delighted to come back and spread the word about some of the opportunities that exist. Studying in Japan is cheaper, easier and way more fun than you might think.”

High Tunstall student Jessica Bibby taking part in a session led by Japanese Calligrapher Yukiko Ayres during the Japan Day at St Hild's School in connection with Doshisha University.

High Tunstall student Jessica Bibby taking part in a session led by Japanese Calligrapher Yukiko Ayres during the Japan Day at St Hild's School in connection with Doshisha University.

A total of 49 students were invited to the Japan Day event, and the schools present included St Hild’s, Manor, High Tunstall and English Martyrs. Chris Seymour, Assistant Headteacher at St Hild’s who helped organise the event, said: “We originally planned to stage the event for our own pupils given Gill’s past links with the school, but then we decided it would be a good idea to extend an invite to schools across the town so that their pupils too could take advantage of this unique opportunity to draw on her knowledge and experiences.

“The event provided students with an interesting insight into what it would be like to go to university in a foreign country like Japan and also gave them a taste of some genuine Japanese culture.”

Gill Steel, formerly from Hartlepool and a lecturer at Doshisha University Koyto with Zak Zielinshi (Manor) and Emily Whitehead (St Hild's) taking part in the Japan Day in connection with Doshisha University.

Gill Steel, formerly from Hartlepool and a lecturer at Doshisha University Koyto with Zak Zielinshi (Manor) and Emily Whitehead (St Hild's) taking part in the Japan Day in connection with Doshisha University.