The Students Engraved on My Heart ― Elizabeth Russell's 40 Years at

The Students Engraved on My Heart ― Elizabeth Russell’s 40 Years at Kwassui Gakuin
by Nonomura Noboru, chancellor
Kwassui Gakuin, Nagasaki City
The road that leads up the Higashi (east) Yamate hill in the city of Nagasaki has become known as “Dutch Slope.” This is because at the beginning of the Meiji Era a foreign settlement was established in this area, so it was usual to come into contact with foreigners here. Part way up the slope is the main gate of Kwassui Women’s College; by going through it and climbing up the stone steps, the view at the top suddenly becomes visible. On the right are the lawns of the campus grounds and the red roofs of the college buildings, while across the valley on the left is Glover Garden and the sea beyond.
Three camphor trees tower above the way into Kwassui’s college campus,their thickly growing branches and leaves stretched out as if they are holding out their arms to welcome visitors to the campus. The founder herself is said to have planted these trees, and this is also mentioned in the school song. At the time of Kwassui’s 126th anniversary in December 2005, the school erected a plaque near the camphor trees to commemorate the missionaries who have been sent to Kwassui throughout its history. On it are engraved the names of 76 missionaries, all of them women.
The inscription reads as follows. “In 1879, two missionaries crossed the Pacific from distant America and came to Nagasaki. They immediately opened a girls’ school with a Christian basis. This was how Kwassui Gakuin was established. Since then, for 126 years, undaunted by a great number of trials, Kwassui has kept sight of its original purpose and fulfilled its calling, and so has been able to reach the present time. During these years, 76 missionaries have responded to God’s call to come to serve here, and their prayers and devotion have been a support of the base of this institution. The education they have provided, arising from
a spirit of reverence for God and love for other people, has raised up a large number of young women who have leadership abilities and noble characters. We erect this commemorative plaque with deep respect and gratitude for the missionaries who have served here over the years, and all those who have sent and supported them. ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.’ (Isaiah 52:7)”
Kwassui’s founder, Elizabeth Russell, was sent to Japan, along with her missionary colleague Jean Gheer, by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the American Methodist Church at the request of the Reverend John Davison, who had begun his own missionary work in Nagasaki in 1873.The two missionaries started their educational activities just eight days after arriving in Nagasaki. They had one student. According to Russell’s journal, the student and her teachers did not know each other’s languages, and were communicating through facial expressions.
However, day by day, the missionaries’ Japanese improved, eventually to a level that enabled them to read the Bible in Japanese. The number of students also steadily increased to more than 40 after three years. At this point, the missionaries made up their minds to erect a new school building, and magnificent premises were constructed on Higashi Yamate hill, with spacious accommodation for 60 boarders and 40 commuting students.
Although the system of compulsory education in Japan began in 1873, the percentage of children actually going to school was extremely low, and for girls especially so. In fact, in 1882 67 percent of Japanese boys were being educated but only 33 percent of the girls, and Nagasaki followed the general pattern. In such circumstances, the development of schools for girls, such as Kwassui, can be said to have contributed to the spread of women’s education.
This is not the only area in which Kwassui showed itself a pioneer. For example, in music education, although according to the regulations for the public schools music (then termed “singing”) had to be included in the curriculum, putting this into practice was postponed on the grounds that for the time being singing would not be missed. However, from the beginning, Kwassui implemented music education in earnest. A liberal arts strand, including music, still flows as an undercurrent in the structure of the content of Kwassui’s education. It is also worthy of note that in 1893 Kwassui became involved in children’s welfare activities with the opening of Kwassui Jo-En (Kwassui Girls’ Home), an institution that took in and educated girls who had lost their families
due to a tsunami.
From the time of her arrival in Japan, Russell worked single-mindedly for Kwassui. The fundamental attitude running through her 40 years of productive activities is shown in her words that are engraved on the relief found at the front of Kwassui’s main chapel. “If you could see it, you would find the girlhood of Japan written on my heart.”
Whenever we see these words, we are reminded of what we have learned from Elizabeth Russell and must pass on to the next generation: the attitude of loving our neighbors and of loving our students to such an extent that they are engraved on our hearts. (Tr. SN)
生徒らを心に刻んで――ラッセル校長の40年――活水学院院長 野々村昇
長崎東山手の丘に登る道は「オランダ坂」と呼びならわされている。明治初期、この辺りは居留地に指定されており、外国人たちが行き交ったからである。坂の途中にある活水女子大学の正門を通って石段を登りきると、急に眺望が開け、右手には芝生の校庭と赤い屋根の校舎、左手には谷一つ隔ててグラバー園とその先の海が目に飛びこむ。
校庭の入り口に三本の楠が聳え立つ。枝葉が生い茂り、まるで登校する者を両手広げて歓迎しているかのようだ。この楠は創立者によって植えられたと伝えられており、そのことは校歌にもうたわれている。創立から126年経った2005年の12月、私たちはこの楠の傍らに、活水学院に遣わされた歴代宣教師を記念する碑を建立した。そこに名を刻まれた宣教師は76名。全員が女性である。石碑には次の銘文が添えられた。
 「1879年、遥かアメリカより太平洋をわたって二人の宣教師が長崎に赴いた。二人は直ちにキリスト教を基盤とする女性の学校を開いた。活水学院の創設である。以来126年間、学院は幾多の試練にも挫かれることなく、初心を貫き、使命を果たし、今日を迎えている。この間、神の召しに応じて学院に奉職した宣教師は76名。かれらの祈りと献身は学院の根底を支えた。神を敬い人を愛する精神に発するかれらの教育は、指導力と高潔な心情をそなえた女性を数多く育てた。今われわれは、歴代の宣教師とかれらを派遣し支えた人々に対し深甚の敬意と感謝を覚えつつ、この記念の碑を建立する。
   いかに美しいことか
       山々を行き巡り、良い知らせを伝える者の足は
                      (イザヤ書52の7)」
活水学院の創立者エリザベス・ラッセル宣教師と協力者ジーン・ギール宣教師を送り出したのは、アメリカ・メソジスト教会の婦人外国伝道協会(Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society)である。派遣を要請したのは、すでに1873年から長崎で宣教活動をしていたJ.C.デヴィソン宣教師である。二人が長崎での教育活動を開始したのは、長崎到着のわずか8日後。生徒は一人だけであった。生徒も教師も互いの国語がわからない。ただ表情でコミュニケートするばかりであった、とラッセル師は記している。しかし、日を追って二人の日本語は上達し、日本語で聖書が読めるほどになる。生徒数も徐々に増加し、3年後には40名を越す人数になった。この時点で二人は校舎の新築を思い立つ。60名の寮生、40名の通学生を教育するのに十分な広さをもつ壮麗な学舎が東山手の丘に建った。その1年ぐらい前には「活水」という校名も定まっていた。ヨハネによる福音書4章に由来する。
 日本の義務教育制度は1873年から始まったが、就学率はきわめて低かった。女子の就学率はさらに低かった。例えば1882年の場合、男子66.99%に対し、女子は33.04%である。長崎も同様である。そのような状況であるから、活水のような女子を対象とする学校の発展は、女子への学校教育の普及にも貢献したということになる。
それだけではない。いくつもの点で活水は先駆性を発揮した。例えば音楽教育。公立の学校が規程上は音楽(「唱歌」と呼ばれた)をカリキュラムに設定していながら、「当分これを欠く」として実施を見合わせていたときに、早くも活水では本格的に音楽教育が実践されていた。この音楽を含むリベラルアーツ的な内容構成は今も活水学院の底流を成している。また、1893年、津波によって身寄りを失った女児を引き受けて養育する施設「活水女園」を開設して、児童福祉活動に取り組んだことも銘記しておきたい。
来日してから40年間、長崎の活水学院一筋に勤められたラッセル師。その豊穣な活動を貫く基本姿勢を表わす言葉が、活水学院大チャペルの前面に掲げられている。
  If you could see it, you would find the girlhood of Japan
written on my heart.
心に刻むほどに徹底して生徒を愛し隣人を愛する、この姿勢をこそ私たちはラッセル師から学び受けまた次代に受け渡していかねばならないと、この言葉と向き合うたびに思わされる。