Ive gone to international schools my whole life. Spending time with my peers from all over the world has been a part of daily life as long as I can remember. Learning about my one relationship with the culture around me has been a big part of that. Japan is a complex location with a culture I have worked to understand my whole life. I have taken Japanese classes for the last 11 years and am still not wholly confident in the language. One of the biggest influences on my abilities here has been my classmates surrounding me. When I moved to my current school, my Japanese language skills were not fully developed but I could understand general everyday language. Some students from the school would talk to me in a mix of both Japanese and English.
This was really important to me because in general daily life the Japanese around Tokyo are much more hesitant to speak Japanese to me due to the assumption that I am a tourist. When my peers speak Japanese to me, it is both a form of acceptance and respect. They know that I have worked to learn the language and they are encouraging me to continue by speaking it at least partly with them. They trust that I am knowledgeable about the language and are also students who know that I live in this country and want to help me in learning the language. This action has helped me not only learn Japanese but also to be accepted into my new school, especially through the respect and acceptance expressed through this simple action. Since I have started learning French instead of Japanese, my language skills have deteriorated, but my Japanese peers here continue to encourage me to improve every day by speaking to me in both languages and helping me with vocabulary and grammar when I need it.