GCD – My experience as a third culture kid

I have a Chinese family background and I was born in China. When I was still an infant I moved to Japan, then I started preschool in the United States but then moved back to Japan after living there for 3 years. I basically grew up in Japan and YIS was my school since ELC.

I grew up in an international environment, which I am really thankful for. But sometimes I have mixed feelings. There are times where I feel like I don’t belong, I can’t find a stable voice in any culture. What I mean by this is that I feel as if I can’t consider myself part of one specific country. This is mainly related to cultural identity. For instance, when I visit China, people introduce me “She came from Japan” or “She’s Japanese” but really I am Chinese!!! I grew up in Japan and my home is in Japan but I am not Japanese so people in Japan consider me as a foreigner. I grew up with a western style education and the language I use the most is English, but obviously, I am Asian.

Answering the question “where are you from?” ––– can I consider Japan my home? The concept of “home” is such a struggle for me. I feel like I fit nowhere but everywhere. Answering “I am Chinese” or “I am from Japan” is all very awkward. I panic whenever I am asked this kind of questions and every time I answer, my answer always ends up being a long explanation ––– I am Chinese but was only born in China, I grew up in Japan, but I speak English…..

I don’t remember much of my experience living in America because I was too small, but I do remember that I could not understand or speak a single English word when I first got there. This is where I first started to learn English and interact with different cultures. Since then, my life became international, every day I am interacting with people from all different cultures. Perhaps this is also what made me be able to adapt to new surroundings quickly.

Language struggle ––– I can speak English and Chinese fluently and Japanese at a conversational level but for me, none of these languages are strong enough to compare to those who only speak one of these languages. Because I speak three languages I know that there are phrases and words that can only be expressed in each specific language. A lot of the time, I end up mixing languages together without noticing. Sometimes I translate phrases from one language to another language but ends up not making sense to the person I am talking to. At school, there are times where I don’t understand English jokes and idioms. I can speak English but I don’t have the family background and haven’t lived there long enough so there are a lot of things in the English language that I don’t understand or never heard of.

Despite all my struggles, this experience, however, shaped me to become an international-minded person. I am able to make decisions and also think from different perspectives and view situations not only from the cultural values of one culture and I am grateful for this.




书法 Calligraphy

I started learning calligraphy in 4th grade. That time I did not know about calligraphy, I was initially searching for an art class, but I discovered my current calligraphy classroom instead where the teacher introduced the art of traditional calligraphy to me. I decided to try out and soon fell in love with the feeling of using the traditional ink and brush to make beautiful and graceful strokes.

I really like traditional culture; I feel it is fading away, since a lot of younger generations don’t really enjoy it, but I really find it unique and interesting. The artform originally came from China of course, since kanji originated from China, and there’s a wide variety of character writing styles, but I am really interested in ancient characters styles.

In the past few years, I have participated in many calligraphy competitions and exhibitions, but I always entered in the childrens

During the summer of 2016, I spent 3 whole days writing an 800 character ancient script called 曹全碑 (Cao Quan Stele).

Cao Quan stele was made in the Han dynasty (185 AD) in memory of Cao Quan, a virtuous officer of the Han dynasty. The stele recorded Cao Quan’s life, his achievements as well as his ancestry. The Cao Quan Stele is considered as the prime example of Han clerical script and is known for its elegance and beauty.  The identity of the calligrapher, however, remains unknown.  The original stone is now stored in Xian’s Forest of  Stone Steles Museum. (Sources for this background information: baike.baidu.com and vincentpoon.com) 

I am the first high school student ever to be recognized with first place honors by the Contemporary Calligrapher Association and the All Japan Shodo Federation in their annual calligraphy competition.

The judges spend months studying the entries, and I found out my results over winter break. My submission was displayed at the Tokyo Art Museum near Ueno Park.

I appreciate the relaxing atmosphere while writing.

I am honored to be recognized on a national level. I will keep trying hard in calligraphy and will be placed at a higher level in future competitions so I have to work hard to keep improving.

Community Engagement –– Chiku service group

This is a service activity that I have been part of since 9th grade.

I would not have known about Chiku service if it weren’t for this activity. I lived in the area for 10 years and never knew there was a Chiku service area. By being part of this activity I learned more about volunteer work and the community around me. I learned that small changes could make a big impact for the homeless ––– donating food and clothes means that more individuals won’t have an empty stomach and will be able to keep warm especially during the winter. I came to realize that everyone, even those who live on the streets have a unique story, it is important to understand and accept people and not marginalize them. I think that this is important knowledge to gain because we need to know that everyone does not live the same lifestyle and we have to be thankful for the things we have.

This knowledge about the world made me understand to value and not waste, also not to complain about things I don’t have because there are people in the world who may not even have basic necessities. However, this also made me question whether certain volunteers are doing the right thing. Are we actually helping them? Many people may think the homeless people are happy just like that because they get money from the government. The homeless sometimes gets more money from the government than some people are paid from working. So maybe the homeless are just lazy? If we donate to them food and supplies wouldn’t they just become lazier and rely on those donations rather than trying to earn their food and supplies from working? Yes, it may be true for some people, but not for many others. There are many barriers the homeless experience, they are marginalized, and people tend to stay away from them because of their physical appearance, therefore, making it very difficult to find jobs ––– from the research we did during Chiku meetings, we learned that many of these people earn small incomes from sorting and collecting trash such as cans and magazines.

Working collaboratively with others:

In the Chiku group, we have split ourselves into smaller groups with more focused tasks (Awareness, fundraising, communication, onigiri, and events). I am part of the onigiri group, our job is to organize the onigiri making sessions which happens once a month. During the onigiri sessions, we work together to make more than 100 onigiris which will be served to the homeless during lunch. The elementary children are often at these sessions to help us make onigiris too. These sessions usually take place early in the morning. Sometimes we have to prepare onigiris for service events as well, in these cases, only the onigiri group is there to make more than 100 onigiris and this usually takes us more than 2 hours to make. Although these sessions are not mandatory for all Chiku members, everyone still takes their time off to come to these sessions.

Link to photos: gcd chiku photos

GCD-Multilingual me

China, America, and Japan. Chinese, English, and Japanese. My mother tongue is Chinese, but English comes more naturally to me at most times. As for Japanese, I have been living in Japan since Pre-school, I basically grew up here, so the language is very familiar to me and I also have been learning the language at school ever since I came to YIS. I feel cool and proud to know that I am able to communicate in three different languages, or maybe even more in the future. I would have never thought that I would be able to speak three languages this well when I was born.

This may sound a bit strange, but I speak to my family with mixed languages. I say a few words in Chinese, then English, then Japanese, I have always wondered if other multilingual people are in this kind of situation. Although this happens sometimes, at home Chinese is mainly spoken with my parents and Japanese with my younger brother (his first language is Japanese). I find it really useful to have three languages, apart from it being convenient, it allows you to interact with many more people.  If you know more than one language, you will realize that there are so many expressions of one language that you just can’t express through the other.  This can be frustrating sometimes because you try to translate the expression but then it doesn’t really make sense in the other language. Having more than one language makes your thinking more diverse, your brain naturally makes you think with the perspective of all your languages which I believe is what makes an international minded person – being able to see situations in a culturally unbiased perspective, understanding and respecting all perspectives.

Living in Japan for almost my whole life and growing up with education where English is prioritized, makes Chinese used less often in daily life other than basic conversations with my family. Chinese is my mother tongue, so I believe it is very important to be fluent, which is why I have continued to take Chinese lessons once a week since elementary. Recently, I decided to take the HSK Chinese language proficiency test, on one hand, to prove my fluency and on the other hand to see for myself what level I am at. I am quite satisfied with my results as I scored much higher than the passing point at the highest test level. However, at the same time, I was able to see what I struggled with, I lost much of my points in the writing section because I couldn’t remember how to write the characters of certain sentences I wanted to express. I actually expected this because there is not much opportunity to write in Chinese in daily life other than homework from my lessons. Also because I am so used to typing, when you type the pinyin in the computer, the character will come out itself. But the funny thing is that I am able to read Chinese books, I recognize the character when I see it but I just can’t write it sometimes. This is something I want to improve on, which is also one of the reasons I chose to learn calligraphy, to practice my writing.

Lastly, like I mentioned before, being multilingual is a great benefit. Your brain automatically brings you to see things from different perspectives, other than being convenient, I believe it will also bring much more opportunities in life. I am very grateful to have three languages.

Prom Committee

This year I was part of the Prom committee. The prom committee was in charge of planning and running the prom for the juniors and seniors which took place on May 26th, 2017. Our first meetings were during the fall of 2016, I was one of the first people to sign up for the group, but at that time we were short of members, therefore I was involved with gathering more people who may be interested in joining. It took about a month to become a big group we have now. Our real meetings where we actually started taking action towards the event started towards the end of 2016.

Before taking any action, we divided the big group into four main sub-groups – Business, Communications, Decorations, Tickets. Although we all have been part of giving advice and helping out for all these groups, these were the jobs we took most part in. The reason we decided to break up into specific groups was to make the management more organized. Business was in charge of financial calculations and making contacts with the venue, Communications was in charge of promotions, Decorations was in charge of choosing and ordering supplies, Ticket people were in charge of selling and keeping count of tickets. I was part of the communications group and was in charge of the senior video making.  The senior video is played at the end of prom night, featuring the seniors and moments during their last year.

Being in charge of the video meant I had to plan the days for filming, plan out what type of footage we needed to get, and contacting seniors. Prom committee created a Facebook page where we shared daily updates and communicated with each other outside of the meetings, this is also where most of our planning happens.

With the help of a few other members of the prom committee group, I was able to get good footage for the video. Organization was a big part of the video making, having organized files, I was able to quickly notice missing footage or mistakes, therefore, was also able to quickly have problems fixed. This was also very helpful during the process of putting the video together.

I actually don’t have much experience with video making so this was a challenging job for me, I also felt a bit worried because this video would be shown to more than a hundred people. I spent most of my weekends from the end of April to beginning of May working on the video.

Overall, being part of prom committee gave me the experiences behind holding a big event. During this process, I developed my management skills, which I think is a very valuable skill to continue developing because it will be useful for many occasions in the future, whether it is for work or just any situations in life requiring similar skills.

Student Ambassador Program

I decided to join student ambassador. Our job was to show new families around the school and introduce them to the school life.
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A few months ago, I realized that Ayasa (a new student who became a good friend of mine) was the daughter of one of the parents we were showing around. I never realized this. I was wondering one day why I seemed to have heard her name somewhere and I asked Caycee (another close friend) if she remembered our first student ambassador tour, and she was also surprised. I think this is really great how we were able to become friends with a family we toured, although Ayasa was not there for the tour, I still felt like we made some kind of connection with her which pulled us close when she started school at YIS in the second semester. It was amazing how I became close friends with her, student ambassador is not just a great opportunity for me to be part of a leadership role but also to meet new people. During this, I felt honored to be representing the school, but also nervous because I wanted to leave a good impression on the families. It was also really nice to hear when she said that her parents still remembered us and were thankful for the tour which helped them make the final decision. This was also when I realized how important this role was.

My next tour was on March 22nd.

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This time I showed a family from South Africa, whose daughter was deciding to enroll in our grade for the new school year. During this tour, the new student came too, so I had the opportunity to talk to her about the school life and answer some of her questions. Of course, the new student was shy at first but I was able to start a conversation which not only leads to us knowing more about each other but also sharing our very different school life. When I asked her about what activities she was interested in, I found out that she was thinking about joining cross country, which made me very excited because this is one of my favorite activities. Although, she wasn’t quite sure at first because she was a bit worried about her ability and how the activity works. I encouraged her to try out the activity and shared my own experience with her, in the end, she seemed certain about joining the activity and was very excited.

Overall, being part of the student ambassador was an honor especially when the new students and their family still recognizes you afterward. This was an important role because as a student whose been in YIS for many years, my actions reflect the school. In my experiences as part of student ambassador, I believe I was very successful, and I was able to see this when the new students came.

Lastly, here is a summary of some things I thought were important during the experience of student ambassador as a leadership role:

Being confident in leading. I had to be quick to respond to questions, looked people in the eye, shook hands, spoke loudly and clearly, and was well informed about where we had been, what we were learning, and where we were headed. Also being comfortable when talking with students outside of my grade-level.

Having real purpose and tasks. I had in mind already a list of different places around the school and pieces of information that I wanted to cover in the tour. As a student who has been in the school for many years, I thought it was important to share my personal experiences as a guide.

Students had autonomy and voice. As a student, we lead the tours, there was no teacher with us so we also had to be leaders of not only other people but also of ourselves.

Throughout the experience, I realized I was working on academic goals. Presentation skills (speaking, listening, and facilitating).

I was also working on personal goals. I have always been working to improve in speech so I decided that public speaking to new people would be a good way for me to practice.

Personal project – Personal goal

During the second semester of grade 9, we were introduced to the personal project. Before we started, I always heard the grade 10 students last year talking about it. I was curious, excited and nervous. This was because I heard that the personal project was hard, time-consuming and complicated.

The goal for my project was mainly to get girls around my age to be more aware and really understand this situation food is causing, also how they can properly deal with it without harming themselves and becoming afraid to eat. To achieve this goal, I decided to create a blog on healthy eating. My blog is personal, therefore, makes it a comfortable place for girls to share their knowledge and ideas, this is also a place where I share ideas for recipes, facts, tips, and other information.

My reflection

Reflection on Media Fair

For our final english unit of grade 10, students were to choose a topic and to examine the topic through the lens of at least 5 different text types. We presented our research by creating a poster and displayed them around the classroom. Yesterday, we had the media fair where we took turns presenting our posters to people of both classes. At the media fair, I went to 5 people’s presentation, 2 from our class and 2 from the other.

The first person I talked to was Alina, her poster was about “Stay at home dads“. She presented the perspectives of dads who stays at home taking care of kids through the text types, TV commercial, song lyrics, politica cartoon, books, magazine article, and canpain poster. In our discussion she talked about how the text types presented stereotypes and the perspective of gender roles, but also the message that they should deserve more recognition.

Caycee’s topic was on “Hafu” which refers to somebody who is mixed-race Japanese. She discussed this topic through the text types of documentary, poster, image, social media, and articles. It was interesting to find out how the perspective of “hafu” is positive from the Japanese point of view, and how the Japanese people believe in a common stereotypes for “hafu”. Although I think that it is unfair for the “hafu” because like caycee was saying, society expects all hafu to look completely gaijin(foreigner). So, it is unfair, as many hafu people feel as they don’t belong.

Margot talked about “Plus size models” through the text types of advertisments, poem, youtube, articles, poster, and movie. It was good to see that there are many positive perspectives as she discussed how the plus size is gradually being more socially accepted.

Erin explored “Cutural appropriation focus on Kylie Jenner” through the text types of youtube, twitter, instagram, news, talkshow, and magazine article. We all know that Kylie Jenner is famous, and I found it interesting how Erin mentioned, Kylie Jenner used her power to influence more and more people from her fashion statement, instead of using her power to influence people in other better areas. Kylie Jenner takes characteristics from cultures such as African Americans and uses them for fashion. I really like a quote she had on the poster “What would America be like if we loved Black people as much as we love Black culture?”.











Our group did not use any script or palm cards, I think that we spoke quite well and clear. Also the structure of the speech  is organized well, we organized it in the order of the story which I think is easy for the audience to follow. We collaborated well when preparing for the speech. We divided our parts and each thought about our own parts but also gave each other ideas and feedback which made our presentation better.