During October 2015, myself and half of my grade flew to Phuket, Thailand. We collected suitcases filled with gifts, clothing, stationery, and toys to donate to Taiwanese orphans. We spent 2 of our five-day trip helping to clean and paint murals in their small school. The other days, we spent a lot of our time engaging in the culture that surrounded us.
Trying new foods with our peers, learning Thai greetings and phrases, understanding the expectations to respect locals and communities around us, and exploring the nature in the province that we were located in. After we were finished cleaning the orphanage local schools, we were able to thank the local neighbors and citizens in Taiwanese, for assisting us with planting flowers and plants in the schools garden.I had never been to an Asian country outside of Japan prior to this visit, and so engaging with this culture for the first time changed my outlook on the world I live in. It was a humbling experience because I was able to see the lives of children that are less fortunate than me and despite not speaking their language was able to effectively communicate with them through hand gestures and facial expressions. It made me realize that human nature is something can universally be understood, despite the different cultures that occupy it. It was enlightening to see how I was able to teach kids how to play games and how to do certain tasks despite the language barrier.
I am part of the animal relief club and have been for several years now. At ARC, passionate animal loving high school students come together to plan ways to fundraise money and donations for local animal shelters (mostly dog shelters) in our community. We also raise awareness for the discarded sheltered animals in Japan. We often work in collaboration with a local animal shelter in our community, Animal Refuge Kansai.
On May 3rd, 2018, a guest speaker from a local no-kill shelter “Animal Refuge Kansai” explained to us, the high school members of animal relief club, the process of “Trap Neuter Return” which is a type of program through which free-roaming cats are trapped, sterilized, and returned to the outdoor locations where they were found and stops reproduction. In doing so, the numbers of cats in areas around Yokohama with large populations, who often carry diseases, become ill and are usually not cared for, can be reduced. She demonstrated how to set up the trap. We were taught why this program was beneficial in making the lives of stray cats better and all the ARC members were able to come together to learn a new skill and take a small step to help improve the lives of cats around our community.
The process of trapping, neutering and releasing stray cats in Yokohama is very costly, roughly 10,000 yen per cat. At ARC we decided to focus on the need for TNR by separating into different groups and brainstorming ways in which we can fundraise money. My group will be making organic and vegan beauty products such as moisturizers and lip scrubs in order to both promote the use of non-animal tested beauty as well as raising enough money to help neuter the cats. Not only does this demonstrate collaborative skills with my fellow club members, but it also demonstrates dedication we all have to progress towards a central goal and plan in order to accomplish this end result.
ARC began as a club to spread awareness of global animal-related issues – such as donating to organizations that care for endangered species etc. However, in recent years we have become much more engaged with our own smaller communities, and thus are able to accomplish smaller more realistic goals in a shorter period of time. We often forget that the animals in our community require assistance and equal recognition as well. I’m proud that our club has prioritized improving problems around us and in our day to days lives as opposed to large-scale problems that can’t be easily resolved by our small team. In doing so, we’ve been able to accomplish more of the goals we’ve set out for ourselves.
Testing recipes for organic vegan beauty products
ARC members watch ARK guest speaker demonstrating how to use a TNR trap safely.
I was on the volleyball team for all of my middle school experience and made the junior varsity team during my freshman year of high school. The initial transition from middle school to high school was something I struggled with as the workload was at first somewhat overwhelming and unfamiliar to me. On top of that, going to practices 3 times a week for 2 hours each time, along with games that could go up to 9pm on a school night, caused a great deal of stress for me. I found that this made me perform ineffectively in the classroom because I found it challenging to get a good night of sleep the day before. Knowing that I was struggling to balance an academic life with my physical and mental health, I took it upon myself to join yoga. It was one of the best decisions I had made. I feel that after joining, I was able to better understand my body, my mental health, and physical needs.
I’ve also been able to learn a lot about the importance of taking care of myself and the various ways in which I can do so. For example, usually, a weekly yoga session will consist of sun cycles/salutations, which is a series of yoga positions and stretches. Sun cycles stretch, flex, and tone the muscles and a great workout for the human body. Though I tent to get out of breath by the end of our sun cycles, it is also a form of relaxation and meditation for the mind. If I’m having a strenuous week, with lots of assignments and due dates, I always find that after a yoga session with sun cycles I am always more calm in my mind and soul. Our instructor often tells us about how sun cycles are very much connected to life on earth as a whole and gratitude to the sun.
I’m emotionally thankful for yoga. Sometimes when I’m feeling down I have to push myself to spend an hour doing various physically tiring positions and stretches. But I never regret going afterward and always have a much better night of sleep the next day. Yoga has made me realize that though High school (especially in the IB diploma program) can be a very difficult time, we are all human with similar physical needs, and it is important to take the time to realize these needs, have a balance between academics and relaxation and be at peace.
I first joined Design Festa in my sophomore year of high school. Now, the annual event has become one of my most anticipated days of the year. Never before had I been a part of such a large event outside of my school community. Initially, I went into the activity thinking that it would be an enjoyable way to further explore my passion for art outside of the classroom and develop my creative learning skills; little did I know it would have such a positive effect on even more areas within academic life, including those outside of the arts. At Design Festa, individuals from all over the world come together to exhibit their artwork, showcase live painting, and share their love for creativity with other people.
I’ve always been a somewhat quiet person and often struggled to take leadership positions in group projects. Art was always my own form of personal expression. I could convey and explore concepts in a way that I wouldn’t be able to successfully communicate verbally. Though when I first joined the activity there were various unfamiliar faces of students that I had never met before, varying from different grade levels, I surprisingly felt very comfortable to be open and suggest ideas. I felt even more comfortable being surrounded by my group members at the festival itself. At the booth, I met a lot of people from a variety of different cultures. For example, I bought a print design from a group of 5 Phillipino artists, and they came to our booth to buy a t-shirt that I had designed as well. The environment was made up of artists from different background supporting each other. Despite being from different parts of the world, our creative expression brought us together. We all had the same goal: making
As Design Festa is an opportunity to represent our school, our activity supervisor suggested someone design a logo for our shared booth. I was very enthusiastic about volunteering for this task. The logo I designed was quite a success and eventually was printed onto many t-shirts, pins, stickers etc. to be sold at our booth that year. It was amazing to see my own design on display for hundreds of people at Tokyo Big Sight, and I was happy to create the image as a representation of my community.
YIS Design Festa booth
My designed logo t-shirts for sale at Design Festa
Charlie Hebdo Paris Shooting : Firefighter carry an injured man on a stretcher infront of the offices
Part of the reason as to why freedom of expression is often used as an excuse to attack and demote ones opinion or beliefs is because the line of limitation ,when it comes to the topic, is extremley blurred as there is zero censorship and it’s difficult to put restrictions to such a vaguely controversial constitution. The Paris shooting is an example of this idea of zero censorship when it comes to freedom of speech being taken too far and easily being misunderstood.
If an open opinion is intended to attack ones religious beliefs it is considered hate speech and therefore should not be accepted under any circumstances. However, since Charlie Hebdo’s intentions were for comedic and non serious purposes it should not be associated as hate speech ,hence the perspective of those confused by the motivation of the attackers is understandable. (“I have the right to criticize an idea, a concept or a religion.”-Mathieu Davy)
Based off the tragedy that arose from the shooting ,rules, censorship and the reactions of various perspectives must be taken into consideration when potentially offensive freedom of speech, such as the Charlie Hebdo comics, is shared with the world. Additionally, Pope Francis agreed upon the vital necessity for censorship, by acknowledging the idea after the attack, and stating that “There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity…in freedom of expression there are limits.”
(The Struggle To Define Free Speech:, and From Skokie To Paris. “Source A.” Sources—Paris, France, 2015 (n.d.): n. pag. Choices.edu. Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University. Web.)
Initially, I wanted to go to Hiroshima for field studies because I wanted to gain further knowledge on the atomic bombing and travel the beautiful city. I learnt a lot about my own culture, the atomic bombing and Japanese history.
On our first night in the city we got to talk to a woman that had went through the bombing when she was just 6 years old. Listening to her terrifying stories made me feel incredibly helpless, sad and made me imagine exactly how terrible that time must have been for multiple families. She talked about how the black ash covered her face and at the moment the bomb hit, she couldn’t taste, hear, or see anything.
On our third day there, we got to see the genbaku dome which was an agriculture building before the bombing. It’s one of the only buildings that was able to somewhat stay up when the bombing occurred. It was very interesting seeing it because I had no idea exactly how terrible the situation was until seeing something that went through it with my own eyes . Imagining the burning building and thousands of dead bodies that were in the river scared.
That same day, we got to visit the genbaku dome museum. The last exhibit at the museum was a photo of president Obama who had recently visited Hiroshima. Next to the photo was a crane that he had folded himself and gave to the children of Hiroshima. It made me realise that even after a dark time, peace can wake from the ashes. I’m also half Japanese and half American so learning more about the battling that occurred between my two countries made me feel more interesting in learning more.
The Capulet family ball was less than a week ago and love is in the atmosphere for the city of Verona – but is it for young and handsome Count Paris? The dashing gentlemen was seen entering the masquerade party with a smile on his face, prepared to woo his fiancée, Juliet. Juliet on the other hand, was seen that same night running off with a masked polished man. Who is said to be a Montague. Who is Juliet’s new friend and what does Paris think about him.
Question : According to the woman of Verona, you are quite the catch! Would you say that Capulet is also fond of you ?
Answer : I wouldn’t say I’m quite the catch but I do spend a specific amount of time working on my hair. I’ve known Capulet and their family for quite some time, so I’d say we have a decent relationship. I was lucky enough to have found Juliet and their acceptance of our love means a lot to both of us.
Q : Do you think Capulets acceptance had an advantage over you winning Juliet’s heart in marriage?
A : Everyone is a little pressured by their parents. Although she relies on her parents opinion a great deal, I know my Juliet would have loved me just as much, had I not had a good bond with her father.
Q : I totally know how that feels. Speaking of your friendship with Capulet, you recently attended his family party as a personal guest. Did anything happen between you and his daughter whilst you were there?
A : I cherish every moment I spend with my Juliet and I know she feels the same. Last night we danced and she looked lovely as always. She did seem a little distracted but don’t we all get like that sometimes.
Q : Distracted? That’s interesting as I was recently informed that she was seen partying with another man. Were you aware of these rumours?
A : A friend has told me she was seen conversing with a stranger but I hadn’t heard anything beyond that. If it was serious I would’ve known by now. My Juliet is quite the chatter mouth so you can’t blame her for wanting to converse with peasants every now and then. You can’t always believe what people tell you, rumours are quickly spread around the small city of Verona and most of them can’t be trusted.
Q : Interesting, so would you say you’re quite protective over Juliet?
A : Yes, you could say I’m quite the protective and apprehensive type. Everyone is protective over their partner, especially when it’s someone who is as young and obtuse as my Juliet. Someone as childish and confused as my Juliet, you tend to watch over more carefully out of protection.
Q : It was also said that, that “stranger” was a Montague. What are your opinions on the Montague family?
A : Like I said you can’t always believe rumours. A few words cannot describe my feelings towards their family, it’s complicated. There has always been tension between the Capulet family and theirs, and I’ve never really gotten the chance to hear their side of the story. Next question.
Q : Anyways.. What Is It like to be one of the richest and most handsome men of Verona?
A : Well being related to Prince Escalus I was born into this wealthy lifestyle. As a young boy I was taught to look down upon anyone who had less than what I was used to. I was never taught anything else, so my lifestyle is all I know. Sometimes life can be overwhelming, especially when you have a lot of people that know you and expect a lot from you.
Q : Lastly, if there was one piece of advice you would give to married couples what would it be?
A : Make sure you’re happy in that relationship, and treasure every second you spend with your significant other. You never know when they might leave you. Also buy your wife as many gifts as you can, but still make sure she knows who’s in control.
For more juicy gossip on the hot couple see these articles :
SCANDALOUS JULIO! Q&A