Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Rockies’ Matsui speaks to University College gathering

professional athlete

Kazuo Matsui signs an autograph for Hiroko Takeyama after a breakfast reception Aug. 10. PHOTO BY: Wayne Armstrong.

Colorado Rockies second baseman and Japanese native Kazuo Matsui spoke to a group of Japanese teachers and University College staff members on Aug. 10 as part of the college’s Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Program.

The reception with Matsui was intended to connect visiting teachers from Japan with another Japanese native so they could discuss changes in culture. 

Matsui spoke about his acclimation to a new culture as a Japanese native, telling the group that changes are not only apparent, but unseen. Matsui made his baseball debut in the United States for the New York Mets in 2004. 

He told the University College group through an interpreter that he wished he had studied English more but had never expected to move to the U.S. to play baseball. “I’m experiencing some problems in communication even with my interpreter because I don’t want to show my weakness to anyone, even the interpreter himself.”

He also spoke about the difference between Major League Baseball and professional baseball in Japan, telling the group that the majors are “definitely more competitive.” He said, though, that he’d like to “hold onto old Japanese values” because American players tend to not respect their coaches and veterans like Japanese players do.

The MEXT Program is designed to improve Japanese teachers’ English through intensive modules that emphasize English speaking, listening, reading and writing. University College is one of four universities around the world to host the program. 

This year’s program also included a walking tour of historic downtown Denver and a visit to an American elementary school that included a demonstration of Japanese culture and language.

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