During the summer of 2017, I worked as a lifeguard at a public pool in Motomachi, Yokohama Japan. I worked there for around 4 months. It was my first job experience in the real world. This was my first time working in a new community of other workers and actually getting paid. This experience in the professional world has made me realise many things.
My job consisted of three different positions: Tower, patrol, and control. Tower was where I sat on a high chair to overlook the whole pool for any major accidents. Patrol was where I walked around to check if there are less noticeable accidents or if there was anyone breaking the rules. Control was like the headquarters. If there were any problems, the customers came to the control area to ask for help. I personally enjoyed control the most as I was able to communicate and engage with customers.
In this paid work experience, I was able to learn many things such as organisation skills and skill to adapt. I was able to develop my pre-existing skill of communication as well. However I would like to talk about my organisation skills as it has affected me the most. When working with salary, it is next accepted to be late or to forget your things. As a worker it is my responsibility to stay organised and come on time and bring my belongings. In one of my shifts, I arrived to work 3 minutes before the time of my shift. However my manager was irritated as in japan, there is an unspoken rule that you have to be ready 10 minutes prior to the shift. I did not know this which had led me to the situation. This taught me realise the importance of asking question and staying organised. At first I was underestimating the seriousness of the work as it was my first time. However with this, I learnt that I had to be serious and ask questions if I don’t understand something. I had to know and I was responsible for myself. This made me realise the importance of staying organised as it heavily part takes in my success.
I enjoy sports and I play sports in the school teams. Our school belongs to a group called AISA where it has 3 Korean schools. I am the captain of the varsity boys volleyball team and in games, it is my duty to talk to referees when there is a problem. In the tournament hosted in Busan International Foreign School, BIFS, I had the privilege to lead the team and communicate with the opponent and the referees. The referees in BIFS were all Koreans which made it harder for me to communicate because I don’t speak their language. However I was able to communicate by using the limited knowledge Korean and a lot of hand gestures. I had limited knowledge on Korean as a foreigner. Hello, thank you, excuse me was the only words I knew before I went to tournaments in Korea. However I soon learned how to say ball and more sport-specific words.
What I realised as I played sports in South Korea is that there are a lot of cultural differences from Japan. There were moments of misunderstanding which the referee did not listen to us when in Japan they would stop the game and listen to us. So the strategy I took was to take my time before game to thoroughly ask questions on how they would make the calls. By doing this I was also able to understand their perspective on the game. I was effectively able to use my communication skills to convey my thoughts but more importantly understand the opponent’s view. This event made me realise how there are more than one platform of communication. I used to think that verbal and written language was the only way to communicate. However I now know that this isn’t the case and visual language (Body language) is another effective way to communicate. I believe that language can transform into many different forms because I was not able to understand the verbal language but still understood the referee’s body language and their facial expression which is a form of language.
I can confidently say that I am able to understand the difference in form of language and how that affects the communication intercultural communication.
With the general trend of globalization all over the world, as a member of the global community and also as a student of YIS, having a wide global perspective is essential. In geography class, we have a privilege to look into the global situation between countries and communities. First unit for out geography in the IB was population. We looked into the change in population in countries and the movement of people. In this unit we saw the drastic increase of the population in the past decades. The consequence of that is the natalist policies. We saw huge difference between Japan and China which is just across each other. This really interested me because although physically the two countries are really close, their policies on natalism completely opposed from each other. In another unit, we looked into how some countries have different opinion on global problems. America and Russia has two vastly different opinions on the problem in Syria. In geo class, I was able to further my understanding by researching why the two countries have that different of an opinion. In geography class, I was able to look into more incidents where we need the understanding of global perspectives. This has changed me as a person because I am able to think about how the others have different opinion from me. Not only that I can now talk about the reasoning behind the countries’ action. One of the most looked into topic in Geography class is relationship between Japan and China. For one of the unit we looked at Senkaku islands, Diaoyu island in Chinese. Economically, both countries are arguing over the island for the extension of their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). EEZ is a concept which allows coastal state to have rights over resource and the use of them in area of 200 miles from the shore. With the increase of the EEZ due to Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, both countries will be able to extract and use the resources to further develop. From the view of Japan, I believe that they are in need of resources such as underground oil which is found around the area. This is because Japan is heavily dependant on imports which diminishes the economic growth. On the other hand, with the drastic growth of population in the past few decades, China is in desperate need of food. With extension of EEZ, China is able to have a temporary solution to their problem of food shortage. This will give them the time to think of a solution on the long run. There are political reason why China and Japan is fighting over the island too. The main reason for Japan is to show that Japan is still capable of keeping its stance. This politically gives the message that Japanese government is not letting the Chinese government push them around. At the same time, Chinese government is trying to express their power within the Asian countries by taking the islands. With this, they will be step closer as the superpower of the world. Both countries have its own reasons to have the island for themselves. However China has an advantage as it has stronger influence due to the size of its country. Larger size means that there are more resource that can be taken out making the country rich in resources. This will make China more influential in economics because countries will trade for resources and goods. As this happens China’s influence over the world increases and it can be proved with the fact that China has become the closest country to become the super power of the world. This is the privilege that China have over Japan. China is able to have more influence due to its physical size and its economical strength.
As a Japanese citizen, I believe that Japan has the rights to the island. This knowledge comes from history and the education by the Japanese government. However with broader global understanding, I now understand why the Chinese government is working hard to gain the control over the island.
Community engagement is one of the biggest value that YIS expects the students to contribute to. This helps students to have more balanced school life and helps to form a more opened person. The biggest contribution I have on the community is tech support in the auditorium. After three years of experience of working on backstage tech support by myself, I have decided to create a HS tech team with the help from the arts department. The HS tech team’s role in the community is to provide support when there are events which consists lighting, sound and other aspects of tech. In my junior year, I have concentrated on teaching underclassman how to become a tech crew that can be useful in any situation. I have taken a lot of my time to engage in this because I believed that it is an important process in order for the HS tech team to keep running after I graduate. In this process I learnt that if I allocate my time and effort, results will show because the underclassmen became more reliable as time passed. However I still had to be there because they did not have as much experience. I believe that tech team takes an important role and we have a huge impact on the community. With the experience of HS tech team, I was able to become more responsible because I take a leading role of the group. I have become more organised which has also affected me to do my job as a responsible leader.
In my junior year, I introduced a website called Trello. This website allowed us to stay organised and know which event needs technical support. Use of Trello allowed us to be sustainable too because we know which member was overworking and which member was not participating as much as others. Then I was able to email the members to ask them to take a shift in one of the events. I’ve made a notebook for future leaders so I can pass on the work as the leader and get them to smoothly transfer the work.