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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.

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.

Iya field studies

This is my 6th field studies, every year we visit a new place with a different adventure, a different experience, and a different story. I think that field studies is a chance for us to explore more of the Japanese culture. This is my first time traveling to Iya and also knowing about this place.

Iya is one of Japan’s Three Hidden Valleys, it is known for the dramatic mountain scenery, traditional homes and vine bridges. I also learned that it was a hiding place for the fleeing samurai of the defeated Heike clan from centuries past.

This trip was an adventure and also a challenge, especially because I am not so use to be living in a place with so little population. Quietness and nature was all around us every second, very different from the city.

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The most memorable part of this trip was the stay at the top of Tsurugisan and the hike down. The scenery from the top was so beautiful, it was absolutely staggering, it almost looked heavenly. It was like we were standing on an island surrounded by a great sea of clouds. The air was so fresh and crisp, although I have to say that I was freezing, I think everyone was freezing. So cold! I was regretful that I did not bring more layers. Not minding the cold temperature, I still insisted to go see the stars that night. The wind was whirling so hard, it almost knocked me over a few times! As I reached the star watching spot someone was shouting through the wind “OMG! We are in the clouds!”. I looked around, it was amazing! We all lay down in a row, one next to another and looked at the stars. I was enjoying this moment so much that my shivers went away. As we all lay still chatting and enjoying the stars and the loud wind. Before we realised the fog and clouds surrounded us, you couldn’t even see the edge of the mountain anymore! It was like I was in a dream or a mysterious place. I could never forget this moment. The hike down the next day was an adventure. The route was much more intense than hiking up. We actually walked over mountains and crossed rivers. It kind of felt like we were on some kind of survival trip. The hike felt like forever at that time, but when we finished I still couldn’t believe we finished the hike.

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12231228_975353865836443_2007752175_nAlso, the very kind people there who we met along the trip. The last day was as well a very meaningful day, it was a cultural day where we experienced making soba from scratch, visiting a traditional thatch-roofed house, rope making out of straw and not to mention the delicious meal which includes the soba made by ourselves. Every minute made this a memorable trip. Not only I got to explore a new place, but I also adopt skills and got the chance to really understand my friends more.