Ever since January of 2016, my first year of High School, I have consistently been volunteering at the animal shelter ARK. Since I have been persistent and been at every adoption fair since 2016 I have gathered up over 200 hours of community service with them. Through this, I have shown a consistent and sustained commitment to helping the organization. I also often have other responsibilities there as I have been there so much I am trusted to take interviews with people who are potential adopters or want to foster in the future.
So far throughout my high school experience arts has greatly contributed to helping me relax through all the stress I have been in these past three years. I love sitting down with a sketchbook and either sketching drawing or painting. For Christmas last year I got different art mediums packs that I like to differentiate between and try different types of 2D art. I also enjoy 3D art such as sculpting with clay, jewellery making, and sewing. A while ago I got a sewing kit from my sister, and this Christmas I also got a mannequin so I can sew even more things now, the sewing also includes sketching up a pattern to follow. In my free time, I also enjoy music as an art. I love sitting down and playing my guitar, piano or ukulele and singing along, I have also recently started trying to write my own songs.
When I was eight years old I moved away from my home country, Sweden, to Switzerland. Because I moved when I was so young, it was imperative that I learned English in order to be able to communicate in an international school. After about two months in the international school in Zurich, I was able to read, speak and write fluently in both Swedish and English. However, in while I was still in a school in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, it is mandatory to learn the German language in school. Because of this I also learned to be fluent in German from grade two up to grade eight. In international schools, it is also necessary to learn either French or Spanish once you reach middle school. So for me, I chose to learn Spanish from grade ten until I graduate next year in grade twelve. Since I have been learning Spanish for almost six years now, I can communicate and understand.
Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved animals and felt extremely strongly about animal rights. Since I grew up with a cat for the first eight years of my life it felt strange not to have a pet inside the house, so when we moved to Japan our family decided it was time to get a dog. Since my little sister was terrified of dogs from a young age it was decided she would get to meet the dog before so she wouldn’t be scared. Since there are so many pet stores around Japan it went faster than expected and after just going in to look at a puppy we came home with a new family member the very day. Unfortunately, my sister has extreme allergies and after three days we ended up having to give the puppy back. However, at an activities fair at school I ended up finding a flyer about becoming a foster family for a dog, after talking it over with my parents it was decided this would be the perfect situation in finding us a dog my sister wasn’t allergic to and we would be able to adopt.
After having a meeting with Julie at ARK, we later got a foster puppy Jerry, and even though we couldn’t keep him he still got adopted to our cousins in Sweden. The organisation ARK, however, had really sparked my interest, and as of February 2016 we started fostering, and this then led to me volunteering at adoption events every weekend. On June the 20th 2017 I had gathered up 150 hours of community service at ARK, and I still volunteer at every event and plan on continuing to do so until I move in 2019. In October 2016 we ended up adopting our second foster dog, Yama. As of today my family has fostered two dogs and five kittens and are still up as a foster family whenever homeless animals come to the Tokyo ARK.
Throughout my Freshman and Sophomore year of high school, I have been a member of the service group Animal Relief Club (ARC), which is dedicated to helping homeless animals and shelters. As I am a huge animal lover I figured this would be the perfect service club for me as I am involved with ARK outside of school and would like to continue helping within the YIS community as well. Being apart of this group I noticed that all leaders throughout the past two years have been talking about actually getting in contact with animal shelters, talking about making shelter visits and so on. However, none of the leaders these past two years have actually managed to make something they were talking about does happen, all that has been going on has been having a stall on Food Fair. Because of this I thought it would be good to actually do something with the club to do what we all came to do, help animals. So for my Junior year I prepared a speech and ended up becoming leader this year until my Senior year in November.
As a leader of ARC I will be preparing things for the group to do each year and taking action in actually going and physically helping shelters out as well as perhaps collecting materials such as blankets and things for dogs and cats (eg toys) to help the shelters out. We will also be doing donations from bake sales, and I am also planning to have employees from a shelter come in to talk to the club about what it is really like since a lot of people aren’t yet aware.
In January of being the leader of ARC, I got the group started on a project to do with the Yokohama community and helping all the stray cats in the region. On the project, I got us in contact with an organization who could help teach us how to capture the cats, then take them to the vet to get them spayed and neutered and then release them again. This is to ensure that the stray cat population stops increasing so rapidly. In May 2018 I organized for one staff member and one board member from the shelter ARK to come in and talk to the club about TNR (Trap Neuter and Return). We had this presentation in order to get started on out own TNR for cats around the school and the Motomachi area in order to lend a hand in reducing the exponential growing cat population here in Yokohama.
For the sophomore year at YIS students are required to complete the Personal Project, this is where you had to chose a topic which is considered an issue and make a product to help. For my personal project I decided to talk about animal welfare in Japan and teamed up with the non-profit organisation ARK in order to create a promotion video for them about adoption rather than buying a dog and informing about abuse and abandonment.
Through this video I was able to not just reach the members of the YIS community, but also got praise by the founder of ARK, Elizabeth Oliver, and the video was also approved by Dogs Trust in London. Multiple people coming to adoption events for ARK have talked about the video in a positive manner and talked about how it affected them and how it made them want to adopt rather than buy a dog from a pet store as they were not priorly informed about the abuse and puppy mills going into running it.
After having created this video, the ARK staff were so pleased with the outcome and the amount of awareness it has been spreading, not only in Japan, but also other countries such as England, Sweden and the US, that they created a page on their website dedicated to featuring the video.
LINK TO PAGE: http://www.arkbark.net/en/education/11943/
As a student in YIS we are required to attend field studies every year. Last year, as a sophomore I attended the diving trip to Okinawa in order to get a diving licence. Throughout this trip, and before, we were required to study and take a test every single night as well as go diving for three out of the five days spent on the island. Learning how to dive was a new and scary, yet exciting and wonderful experience. Throughout our studies of diving we had gotten to learn that there are many risk factors included in being an open-water diver, which could make it scary when in water. While we were diving we saw many new underwater plants as well as a wide range of fish, and even a turtle. At the end of the trip I passed my test with one of the highest marks in the group and got my licence.
This trip changed my view of the wilderness because I used to be afraid of diving since it has always seemed like a dangerous activity where you can be harmed. However, during this trip I developed a new appreciation of the underwater world. Through going on this trip it has opened up various possibilities for my future. for example, I have always wanted to work with animals, so because I am a certified diver, I could look into becoming a marine biologist.
How is what you have learned relevant to other classes/material you are learning?
What I have learned in Spanish is relevant to other classes because what we have learned is about beauty and self esteem, so it has helped me think about how people see themselves and it has kind of helped with my confidence when I speak in class. Since we also learned a lot about the effects on beauty of social media it connects to the design project we upcycled old clothing items to what was considered trendy and fashionable, this also went to show how the media affects what trends are going around.
Does what you have learned have any moral, religious, or ethical implications? What are they?
Yes, because from experience people act on behalf of what they think is right, and even if it could hurt someone else. It has religious implication because people from different cultures and religions have different beauty standards and therefore it will affect on how they dress and act.
How did you feel during the learning experience? Why did you feel this way?
During this unit I felt a little bit unsure and uneasy as it brought up some memories from my old school and how some of the things we were learning about in Spanish really mattered to a group of girls there. These girls all really cared about how people looked, they based everything on their appearance and not on their personalities. They would make people feel really bad about themselves and make them want to avoid them, they even made things worse for certain people who already had really low self esteem. For example they almost made a guy there commit suicide because they made him feel worse than he already did and would target people day after day, not caring what they think. So that is why I feel really strongly that people shouldn’t be judged on their appearance, but their personalities and what really counts.
Make a wordle or mind map of your learning.
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