Volunteer-run Nihongo Connection is a Japanese-language study club that aims to provide an immersive study environment for all. Founder Jess Brown tells us how it all began and what she's done to maintain her relationships during lockdown.
Jess founded Nihongo Connection back in 2014. “I was looking for a way to speak Japanese daily, the way I had when I lived in Japan. I wanted to find people like me. A group of people wanting to have fun using the Japanese language - in real everyday activities, have immersive day trips and adventures!”
Then in 2019 Jess won the Scottish Samurai Award for her longstanding services to Japan and Scotland, but like most of us she’s had to adapt in 2020. “We moved all our in-person events online using Zoom. It meant researching better ways to share resources and practice speaking when away from each other.”
This change has opened up a whole new audience for Jess and her club. “We have a greater reach and have been helping people all over the world, not just those based in Edinburgh.”
Jess has relied on connections with local business to get through lockdown. “Gary at White Tree Chiropractic has been incredibly supportive, recommending resources and meditations for dealing with stress. Pointe Ahead Pilates has been my go-to physical support ever since lockdown. Rachel has kept me fit, healthy and sane! Cat at Roots continues to care for and feed the less fortunate and she is an absolute inspiration.”
Even though lockdown has been okay, that doesn't mean Jess isn't ready to meet up in person again. "When lockdown is over the first thing I’ll do is organise a fun outdoor Japanese language activity for us to hang out together." Not long now, Jess!
Check out Nihongo Connection’s website to join in some online events. New to Japanese and want to learn the ropes? Check out Jess' Japanese language for travellers bootcamp and get ready for the day we can travel again.
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