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.