GCD: Global Understanding (Phuket)

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 the Burmese-mon Thai 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 their language, for assisting us with planting flowers and plants in the schools garden. I had never traveled 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 take part in the lives of children who were less fortunate than myself and my peers, and despite not speaking their language was able to effectively communicate with them through hand gestures and facial expressions.

Returning home to Tokyo was astonishing, to say the least. The trip made me realize how insignificant my problems and worries were in comparison to the world around me. In my classrooms, tables and chairs were not seen as a luxury but as a priority to learning. At the Burmese-mon orphanage school, children sat on small dirt-colored cushions where they would learn addition and subtraction. I hadn’t appreciated something as seemingly simple as walls around a classroom until seeing the small rooms of the Burmese-mon school, where the only protection from a natural hazard or immense rainfall was the frail roof build above their heads by local villagers. Freshwater and clean clothing was a luxury to the children. I remember seeing a little girl playing with her friends in one of my donated dresses. I received the dress when I was younger but never wore it because I had other clothing I liked more. Seeing the girl put my world in perspective to hers. The children didn’t have the option to select their favorite foods, toys or clothing items unlike I did.

In addition to realizing the many privileges I had in comparison to the children, I also noticed the many cultural and economic differences between the country and Japan. Never before had I seen children under the ages of 5 riding motorcycles, but for some, this was their only form of transportation from one place to home. The streets were crowded, but not like I was used to in Tokyo; instead the streets of Phuket were filled with small food stands run by locals and stray dogs running across the streets. Seeing this was very new to me and it was evident that the city was much less economically developed than Japan. Experiencing this made me appreciate even more the small things I had access to at home; such as a convenient and good quality transportation subway system, which I had taken advantage of prior to this experience. The trip grew my global understanding of the world around me and made me more appreciative of the seemingly minute priveledges I had easy access to in Japan.

GCD: Community Engagement (Animal Relief Club)

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.

GCD : Wellness (Yoga)

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. In volleyball, I was constantly putting pressure on myself to improve new skills in order to make my teammates proud. In addition to the academic pressure, I had of maintaining well-rounded grades would often cause me some stress. After joining yoga, however, I didn’t feel pressure to make anyone proud, because the activity was strictly a weekly practice to treat myself and improve my flexibility at my own pace.

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. After 3 years, I’ve continued to participate in yoga — the knowledge regarding the wellbeing that I’ve accumulated from yoga has transcended into my everyday life in a variety of ways. I’ve learned to prioritize my emotional and physical wellbeing. Whether it be taking the time to breathe before an exam or attempting to get even an hour more of sleep, these traits that I have accustomed thanks to the activity have helped me to relax more inside and outside of school.

GCD : Inter-Cultural Communciation (Design Festa)

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.

At home, I speak both English (my first language) and Japanese (with my mother.) On a day to day basis, I’m accustomed to speaking primarily English with friends at school, and typically avoid speaking Japanese with strangers as the language isn’t something I’m entirely confident with in terms of my grammatical abilities. However, when I went to Design Festa, I was forced to speak strictly Japanese, in other to entice viewers to come to the YIS booth and convince them to purchase some of the various goods we created. For example, because 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. I spoke to various Japanese artists at the booth, some of which eventually purchased t-shirts and pins of my design.

In addition to speaking lots of Japanese, at Design Festa I met a lot of artists 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. Through this experience, I realized that language barriers often are not an issue when it comes to art, where creative expression is universal and does not require explanation.

YIS Design Festa booth

My designed logo t-shirts for sale at Design Festa

Freedom of Expression

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.)




Hiroshima Expeditions Reflection

unnamed-3 unnamed-4Initially, 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.






GCD fit for life

Things I’ve learnt this year (Grade 9 2016)…

  1. Challenge yourself to do new things but don’t overwhelm yourself by doing so
    – At one point during the first couple days of 9th grade I signed up for a lot of activities and had one every single day of the week. I changed this but I think it’s important that even later in life I know when i should hold back. Of course it’s important to get out of your comfort zone but at some point it can be a little too much. 
  2. Realising you’re struggling with something/having a problem is the first step to fixing it
    -From something as small as not getting enough sleep to something like having panic attacks frequently, making any change and realising you need help is very important. Especially in the future as adults I think I should remember this. 

  3. People change and it’s okay
    -Going into high school you see a lot of your friends grow and adapt new hobbies. It’s overwhelming at first because perhaps you haven’t changed as much but everyone does and you shouldn’t neglect them for that. 

  4. Overreacting and over thinking certain situations doesn’t help
    -Waking up and remembering you have a huge exam is always a scary thought. Nonetheless, it’s never as bad as you think it might be. This can be demonstrated in everyday life in many situations not just when it comes to school.





Q&A : Count Paris on rumours about Juliet’s new lover!!

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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.

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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.

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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 : 




Tourism Highlights

  1. What were the top three countries in terms in international arrivals in 2014
    France, The United States, and Spain continue to top the rankings by both international arrivals and receipts. The Americas recorded the strongest growth with an 8% increase in international arrivals.
  2. What were the top three countries in terms of international receipts in 2014?
    France, The United States, and Spain continue to top the rankings by both international arrivals and receipts. International tourist receipts reached US$ 1245 billion worldwide in 2014.
  3. Explain the difference in patterns depicted by your answers of question 1 and 2.
    The top three countries in both international arrivals and receipts in 2014 are the same 3 countries. Both increasing.
  4. Describe the recent trends of tourism in Africa.
    By UNWTO region in 2015, Africa has increased 3-5%. Every year it seems as though Africa’s international tourists arrivals decrease and its annual average growth over the past 15 years is only by 4.3%.
  5. Describe the changes in international tourist arrivals between 1950 and 2010. (p.14)
    In 1950, globally international tourist arrivals received was less than 200 million  and has now increased to more than 1100 million.
  6. In your opinion, why has tourism increased since the 1950s?
    As time passes technology and transportation has significantly advanced, making it easier for tourists to visit other countries. Also, since traveling has become popular over the years it has also gotten cheaper and much easier.

INS Columbus and The Native American

  • Has your perspective of Columbus changed?
    Yes. Before the reading my perspective on columbus was that he was a random good guy that left a mark on the world with his discover. After the video it’s clear that what we are told as children in not all that accurate and the positive image put on Columbus was false .
  • Of native americans?
    I think for most of us when we hear native Americans we think head dresses and feathers. Historians  have forced a mostly negative viewpoint on native americans. After the video I have a really negative view point on Columbus. The main focus of the video was no so much dedicated to native Americans and I think that could have changed how I thought. Now I feel that the Native Americans were minding their own business until Columbus came along.
  • How can you read history and be aware of biases?
    Most children’s books on American history are very inaccurate. I think the image of Columbus being a hero, a founder and a great person was forced on us by adults, stories and Columbus himself.
  • If you were to write about columbus, what themes would you focus on, knowing that you cannot write everything about everything?
    I would focus mainly on trade between the new and old world as I feel it played a big roll in revolutionising the world. It’s a pretty specific topic and in the video there was a lot to say about it. Also I think that the information on trade is mostly accurate and reliable.
  • What themes did your readings choose?
    How native Americans revolutionised Europe and as well as the diseases and exchange between the new and old world.

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