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Amid COVID curbs, west Japan int'l exchange worker makes video about Michigan for locals

An illustration of the state of Michigan in a video by coordinator for international relations Ashley Davis for the Otsu City Government's YouTube channel is seen in this provided image.

OTSU -- An American international exchange promotion worker at the Otsu Municipal Government in this western Japan city has produced a video for the local government office's YouTube channel that introduces residents to the history of her home state -- and Shiga Prefecture's sister state -- Michigan.

    The coronavirus crisis has made it difficult to hold opportunities for international exchange including school visits and exchange events. In the video uploaded Jan. 11, 27-year-old Ashley Davis, a coordinator for international relations at the Otsu Municipal Government, created around 20 illustrations and a narration to introduce her home state to local people.

    The 11-minute video, a "A Brief Illustrated Michigan History," comes in two versions: one with Japanese subtitles and another with English subtitles. Among the information included, it explains how the state of Michigan, which faces the Great Lakes, is made up of two peninsulas. It also traces the state's history, including of its indigenous people before the arrival in the 16th century onward of French and British control, how Michigan became involved in wars during the 18th and 19th centuries, and how it prospered in the 20th century thanks to automobile production centered in Detroit.

    The video also touches on the state's cultural diversity, with immigrants from Germany, northern Europe, Greece, Poland, the Middle East, as well as Japanese people working for Japanese companies, all living together in harmony.

    Davis said the hardest part of creating the video was translating the English subtitles to Japanese, and that she had also wanted to draw and paint the illustrations to be a little better. She also expressed hope that she will have more opportunities to speak with elderly residents once the coronavirus situation has settled down.

    Davis majored in Japanese and French at Michigan State University, and studied for a year starting in 2014 at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in the city of Hikone, Shiga Prefecture. After working as a coordinator for international relations in northeast Japan's Miyagi Prefecture, she took up her current position at the Otsu Municipal Government in August 2020.

    The video can be viewed via the Otsu Municipal Government's YouTube channel, at: https://www.youtube.com/user/cityotsu

    (Japanese original by Manabu Niwata, Otsu Bureau)

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