GCD : Personal Goal

       4. PERSONAL GOAL

Being able to engage with the school community as a photographer and a videographer, has brought me a sense of personal accomplishment and boosted my motivation levels as an artist. Photography and videography is my hobby as well as my passion, I have had the opportunity to help the school’s communications department, and also other communal aspects of the school such as photographing and filming sports games, concerts, and other community events. Furthermore, I took this as an opportunity to begin experimenting with my freshly sparked passion.

4:30 AM, I awaken to the sound of my piercing alarm, dragging my consciousness out of bed. The freshly orange sunlight penetrates the curtains, left open on purpose to wake us up at this early hour. This was no ordinary school morning. This was our fourth attempt at filming a sunrise scene for a short film project. In spite of lasting only a few seconds, this scene was arguably the hardest of all, both mentally and physically, although its significance to the story made it worth the effort.  

Six months ago there was a spark inside me wanting to try filmmaking for the first time. My curiosity and rising passion for this artform was waiting to be put into action. Out of all the art forms I’ve explored in my artistic past, filmmaking was a first. While I nervously waited for the IB program to slowly begin taking over my life, I contemplated in my bed, in the train, in the bus, and especially in the shower. With no prior experience I was fearful, although I knew that there was only one way to learn: by experiencing it first hand. I challenged myself to direct, write, shoot, and edit, and convinced my friend to act the lead role. I aimed to enter the local student film festival in May. My worries were suddenly blown away by the exhilaration of my ambitions, channelling any negative stress into productive stress.

We filmed weekend after weekend at his house, where the story took place. During spring break we traveled for shots we couldn’t get where we lived. We took advantage of time and kept going back to reshoot, for that ‘perfect’ shot. We learned from our mistakes and reflected after every session, but before we knew it, two months had blown right past. Hours and hours of work only added up to a minute in the final cut, and my friend and I began to feel exhausted and frustrated. Behind all the stress however was the true taste of filmmaking, so we persisted, working past midnight every session.

By May, the deadline was around the corner along with exams, and we were still unfinished. Upon finishing scenes at the last minute, I finally submitted my piece in time. I brought my exam notes and studied while I attended the film festival, which took place on the weekend before exams. I felt crazy for spending a ridiculous amount of time on just a five minute piece of film, but I realized that the hard times are what makes it worth in the end. All the stress built up inside me transformed into joy, pride, and relief. My risky venture resulted in four awards for excellence in editing, writing, photography, and production design.

I walked out of the film festival with much more than just these awards. I learned what I love doing, what I want to strive and dream for in the future. I learned what makes filmmaking such a powerful art form. In such a highly collaborative field, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. With great chemistry comes great power over the end product. I was grateful to have my partner who helped me throughout and to be able to have fun, learn about each other, and be productive simultaneously. I learned that with great freedom of time comes great responsibility of time. Especially for young students during our crucial years of education, many of us cannot help the tendency to leave important work to the last minute. We must not take time for granted, even when it feels like we have all the time in the world. I must admit I speak from personal experience, although this film project embedded the importance of planning into my head. Ironically, this was the message of my film – the consequences of procrastination.

The opportunity to pursue my passion and help the community at the same time has been a significant part of my high school career as an art student – the practice of photography has not only led me to discover a passion for filmmaking, but it has also opened up a new dream for the future. Of course, it is impossible to say what I will and will not become in the future. Nevertheless, having a passion and an area of interest that you’re willing to put more than just 100% of your time and effort into, is a priceless opportunity. My artistic goals of high school has allowed me to unveil the feeling of inspiration and aspiration, both values of which will continue to shape my future.

GCD : Inter-Cultural Communication

       3. INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION

One great advantage of playing varsity sports in an international school is the tournament that takes place at one of six schools, half of which are schools from different parts of Japan and the other half in different parts of Korea. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to travel to Seoul as a member of the varsity football/soccer squad. Despite my expeditions trip in freshmen year, this was my first time traveling to another East Asian country, other than Japan, where I live. Similar to Japan, South Korea is a first-world Asian country, much smaller in size compared to Japan, though the culture and language are quite different with some minor similarities in the social dynamics.

We were housed by an opponent player from the host school, and my three-day trip consisted of playing soccer and indulging in Korean culture such as eating Korean food. What I found most engaging about the experience was not the soccer tournament – It was experiencing and learning a new culture. I was proud to able to comfortably greet in Korean by the end of my stay – even if this may seem like an obvious skill to be able to acquire, I believe it is a big step toward indulging yourself in the culture. Being able to communicate your basic mannerisms shows that you’re making the effort to connect with the culture and the people, a crucial first step into inter-cultural communication. Attending the tournament was given to us as an option at first, given that it involves extra costs to cover travel fees, as well as having to dedicate the last few days out of the week.

As someone who’s lived in Japan for all his life and has not lived anywhere else, this opportunity to experience a new Asian culture was a very impactful experience in expanding my identity of being half Asian. Not only this, but I’ve now gotten a better sense of where my Korean friends have come from, as opposed to when I previously could not grasp a full understanding of what Korean culture is. I was in fact intimidated by the academically rigorous expectations of Korean society, as well as my lack of knowledge on the customs. Similar to Japanese culture, precise customs are hard to follow especially when in the shoes of a first-time visitor, though what I came to realize was different. In the end, though, I found that Korean culture was very similar to Japanese culture. Everything from the urban architecture to the mannerism, I found that the similarity made it easier for me to find comfort and adaptation within this new country. This is perhaps why my Korean friends adapt to Japanese culture so well.

We as international students should take this as an opportunity to be able to embrace our inter-cultural privileges, to become better communicators globally.

GCD : Global Understanding

       2. GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING

The annual expeditions week is one of the best parts of the school year, especially being given the opportunity to be together and bond within the small community of the international school I attend. My freshmen year out of all is arguably one of the most impactful trips I have experienced – a week spent in Phuket, Thailand. Unlike all other trips, this trip emphasized on interacting with and helping underprivileged Thai Children, many of whom are refugees and orphans. Not only did we get the chance to play with them through physical and artistic activities, but we also helped paint and decorate one of the few walls that sustain a small school, where the children receive education. The culture and the economic condition of the environment had left me in shock and at first and if it wasn’t for the international school that we stayed at, I most likely would have been challenged at a much higher level.

Regardless of the privileges we were given at Phuket in terms of food and hospitality, being faced with a group of kids that did not speak the same language, nor have experienced the same culture as I am, it most definitely brought nervousness and fear of not being able to do my job. Our goal however was not to learn each other’s languages, but rather to interact with each other through activities, presented with a common goal and incorporating as much engagement and joy as possible. The more time we spent, the more comfortable I got with the children and at the end of the week my friends and I teared up as we said our goodbyes, knowing we will most likely never see them again, after spending days bonding.

Verbal communication is a necessity in our evolved societies, however we must not forget that spoken language is not the only form of language. There is art, there is sports, there is music, and there is love, just to name a few. These many forms of languages are what brings us together on a global scale, and we must not completely limit ourselves to our own cultural comfort zones. No matter the economic status, language, or culture, as long as there is a common form of expression shared between you two, it is not hard to achieve cross-cultural and global understanding.

GCD : Community Engagement

  1. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

I have demonstrated community engagement in multiple ways, the first being my involvement in the Sanagitachi service club that I have been a part of since the beginning of Junior year. This club serves to help the homeless in the surrounding areas of the Yokohama Kannai and Ishikawacho area, near the school. We go out on night patrols with carts of supplies to hand out, every Thursday night during the cold winters and every other Thursday night during the summer. One of the reasons I joined this group is my urge to help the homeless when I come across them on the streets. I have always wanted to provide for them, and joining this service group has given me the opportunity to do so with the help of many other people who are on the same page as me, which is key in getting the right amount of resources.

This club does not just teach us students how to be more aware of the homeless. It is beyond that – to realize how we can contribute physically and not only mentally. I have had numerous occasions before my when I was able to physically help out the homeless by providing them, although I have always been more conservatory. We specifically target places in our city with large concentration of homelessness, and going on these patrols has given me the opportunity to not only help by give out the materials, but to talk to them in person, asking them what they specifically need.

We also collect data on what has run out and how much of those materials need to be supplied. During winter season when the temperature drops below zero celsius during nighttime, we begin the annual “Giving Tree Project.” We setup small Christmas trees around the school with many tags hanging off the branches; each tag indicates an item needed by the homeless to stay hygienic, fed, and survive the extreme temperatures. Scarce supplies recorded during each patrol is prioritized. Below the Christmas tree is a large cardboard box for people to drop off the items. It gives us all an opportunity become Santa Claus, giving and helping those in need. By engaging with the entire community of our school and not only within our service group, I have been able to broaden my level of contribution in raising the needed level awareness, to ultimately be able to help the homeless.