GCD – Global Understanding

In Geography, I learned about population change and migration in different countries as well as its consequences. One significant factor that affects both population growth and migration is power, which can control the population through policies (e.g. pro-natalist and anti-natalist policies) or by forcing people in and out of countries or regions. One example is the One Child Policy implemented in 1979 until 2015 by the Chinese government (Politics) in order to control its rapid population growth. This is contrary to Japan, where it is experiencing population decline. The rapid population growth in China had caused environmental and social issues, including congestion, pollution, and lack of space, services, and resources. Hence, the government aimed to alleviate these issues by introducing the policy. People who did not follow the policy were punished (e.g. fines) or experienced loss of privileges. However, some of the wealthy people (the privileged) did not comply and chose to pay the fines instead, as they were easily able to afford it. Although the policy was successful in reducing its population growth, the policy caused other unfavorable consequences, including an imbalance in the sex ratio due to preferences of sons over daughters and more female babies abandoned or killed due to neglect and infanticide. This policy caused a controversy as it involved ethical issues, including killing lives.

Reflecting on my learning on government population policies, I came up with the following question: “To what extent would policies involving the killing of lives be considered as acceptable/ethical if this was a method to control the population growth in order to ease food security fears, pollution, as well as other unfavorable consequences?” Although killing lives is a controversial issue, in certain circumstances, such as the scarcity of food resources, it is important that policies or regulations are implemented, as it can put many lives in danger and eventually cause a decline in population, like the Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961) did (around 15 to 30 million were killed).

Another experience that gave me an insight into the relationship between power/privileged and politics is the talk we had in Spanish class with Mr. Castro about his migration experience during the Spanish Civil War. The civil war was a conflict against the Democratic Republic Government. Mr. Castro migrated because of issues, including hunger, scarcity of resources, and the economic crisis. Some families had to live with rations, which was insufficient and left many hungry. He and his family migrated north for better conditions, including higher salaries and employment opportunities. This talk linked to what I learned in the unit, changing populations, in geography, in which we learned that possible push factors include shortages of resources and conflicts and that pull factors include better job opportunities and safety.

GCD – Community Engagement

In the first semester of this school year, I joined the GIN Chiku group, hoping to learn more about the state of the homeless people in Japan, particularly in the region I live, and how we can help them effectively. I also thought that participating in this service would help me perceive the specific issues the homeless people around Yokohama, where I live, face.

My first visit to the Chiku center was in October. I participated in the morning session from 7:45 to 9:00a.m. to help prepare lunch for the homeless people. I cut vegetables with the other volunteers who were also helping out, while I learned about their past sessions and the afternoon session when they serve the food to the homeless. For example, they told me that they made 800 meals last time and that it was very busy. I also learned that since some of the people have difficulty with swallowing food, the vegetables need to be cut into small pieces, especially for those with leaves, so that they do not get stuck in their throats or cause any health issues. I still remember being impressed by the care and thought the volunteers put for the homeless people as well as their detailed knowledge on the homeless people.

I visited the Chiku center again in November for the morning session. This time, my role was to wash the vegetables. I felt that I was able to communicate more with the volunteers and get to know them and the Chiku community, compared to last time. I worked closely with one of the volunteers as seen in the picture below, and I had the opportunity to learn and ask various questions. For example, she taught me that the food they serve always changes depending on the ingredients they receive on that day. Not only that, I also got to know her better; for example, she told me that it has been less than a year for her to join this community and that she was impressed with how people get together to help the homeless. She also said that it would be even better if more schools, including Japanese schools, were involved in this so that more people would be helping out too. This experience made me realize how meaningful it is for our school to be involved in these services, and how significant it is to keep this service ongoing in order to keep providing food for the homeless people. By helping out, we would be able to lessen the work of the volunteers, who were mostly elders, in addition to helping out the homeless people.

GCD – Inter-Cultural Communication

This year is my 6th year of studying Spanish, as I have been taking the Spanish B course from my first year of middle school. Recently, there was an exchange program with an IB school in Spain, and we had the opportunity to communicate with the native Spanish-speakers. We had a session where we had to speak one-on-one or in small groups, and we were only allowed to speak in Spanish. Through this session, I was able to gain a further understanding of the Spanish culture and their Spanish lifestyles, which were quite different from my Japanese culture. For example, I learned that ‘bullfighting’ is commonly held in Spain and that it involves killing bulls with a ‘cuchillo’, a knife. Another thing I found interesting was that some of them spoke Gallego in addition to Spanish. They told me that although they speak Spanish at school, they speak Gallego at home and with their neighbors. I also learned about their gastronomy. One of the students told me that the rice in Spain is generally cooked with salt and other ingredients, different from what I usually eat in Japan. She also told me that people in Spain rarely eat raw seafood, which was also very different from the Japanese culture. I found this interesting because these were things that I had never heard of or something that I was able to relate to my trip to Spain two years ago. For example, the fact that they do not eat raw seafood linked back to my trip, helping me notice the fact that all of the dishes I ate were cooked and that I did not remember seeing any dishes with raw fish.

During the meeting, however, there were a few times when I could not understand what the Spanish students were saying as they spoke very fast. In order to overcome this, I asked them to speak more slowly, asked questions to clarify their points, or told them that I did not really understand. When I did so, they spoke slower or with easier terms so that I could understand, helping me share opinions, relate to their stories, and understand them better. Additionally, whenever I could not come up with terms and expressions, I tried to explain them in a different way using simpler terms, words with similar meanings, or body language. When I did this, the Spanish students understood me or asked me questions to clarify my point, allowing us to understand each other and develop our conversations. They also corrected my errors or gave me suggestions to help me convey my point, helping me learn and notice my grammatical errors.

Overall, I think the session with the Spanish students deepened my knowledge of the Spanish culture and their lifestyles, while also strengthening my oral and listening skills in Spanish. I was able to learn about the difference between our cultures, discuss the differences between our programs at school, and learn about the different languages spoken within Spain, including Gallego. When I had trouble communicating my point or understanding them, I found and applied strategies, including body language, asking questions, and finding alternative ways of explaining my point. I believe that it was also a good opportunity to realize my weaknesses: conjugating verbs quickly and correctly, and understanding native Spanish people who speak very fast. Hence, I would like to focus on my oral skills as well as listening skills by, perhaps, practicing explaining things (possibly an image) in Spanish at home and by listening to music or watching videos in Spanish.


Spanish – Phase 4 Reflection

What am I most proud of?
I am most proud of the knowledge I gained, including new vocabularies, expressions, and grammar such as the subjunctive. This allowed me to write and talk about a wide range of topics with less difficulty. Additionally, I am also very proud of the grades I achieved because they were consistent, even for my listening and reading tests, which I am not very confident in.

Do I consider myself a Spanish-speaker? Why or why not?
Although I strongly feel that I have improved on my Spanish skills, I think that I lack my oral skills and listening skills to consider myself as a Spanish-speaker. Therefore, I would like to listen to audios, such as music, in Spanish during the break so that I can improve on them.

What would I do differently if I could do the course again?
When I complete assessments, I would make sure that the adjectives match the noun (adjective noun agreement) since this was one of the things that I often had mistakes on. Additionally, I would also listen to audios in Spanish more often to be able to comprehend what the speaker is saying.

What are three concrete actions I can take to ensure that I am prepared for Spanish B next year?
1. Review vocab and conjugations regularly during the break
2. Read texts in Spanish and expand on my vocab during the break
3. Listen to audios in Spanish during the break


Spanish – Unit 2 Reflection

A metaphor and a simile to describe the subjunctive and/or the imperative:

The subjunctive is the imperative without positivity.

The subjunctive is like a little girl on Christmas, waiting for Santa.

The imperative is the eagerness and desire.

The imperative is like a stressed teacher, leader, or parent.

How is what you have learned relevant to other classes/material you are learning?

This unit, our topic was on beauty and appearances. For example, we talked about how social media affects our standards of beauty and the elements that can influence our appearances and standards. This was relevant to what I learned and did in Design class. In Design, we designed upcycled products, and we researched about the trends and learned how that can affect our appearances and fashion. This was similar because, in both classes, we talked about how trends and medias can affect our appearances, including our fashion. Additionally, in Individuals and Societies class, we learned about how the environment can influence us very much. This was also similar to what I learned in Spanish because I learned about how we can get influenced by social medias and people around us, including our peers, in Spanish.

Write a headline of no more than 10 words to summarize your learning this unit:

Extended my knowledge of subjunctive, unit vocabularies, and expressions

Make a wordle or mind map of your learning:

GCD Wildness Engagement: Niigata Expedition

For expeditions 2016, grade 10 went to Niigata for hiking and camping, Okinawa for diving, or Hiroshima for a cultural tour. I chose to go to Niigata because although my family and I go to Niigata often for skiing, we never go there for hiking. Therefore, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try something new that I would probably not do if it weren’t for expeditions.


View from Mountain Park

On the first day at Mountain Park, a ski resort in Niigata, we had orientation, did group activities, and got ready for the 2 nights-and-3 days hike. We were told to not bring our phones, which we usually frequently use, to the hike. Although I was a little reluctant to leave our phones at first, surprisingly, I was able to adapt to the situation easily without any concerns. Every day was fulfilling, as it was filled with activities and beautiful sceneries, and I realized that not having our phones by our side enabled us to enjoy the scenery and our time with friends to the maximum extent because we were not occupied in using our phones. I believe that it would have been different if we had them because we would probably have been busy taking photos and using our social medias, which is what usually happens when we have our phones, instead of having man-to-man conversations and enjoying the sceneries with our peers.

Furthermore, we were also asked to decide on our roles for the hike. On the first day of hiking, I was the time keeper, who keeps track of the time we arrive at certain points. The difficulty of this role was having to keep on reminding myself to record the time because often after the arduous paths, I was very exhausted that I forgot to check and record the time. It was also difficult to stop at paths, where it was narrow or unstable, and to keep up with the boys in our groups, who had more stamina, to ask them to stop at certain points for rests and recording the time. In order to not forget to check and record the time, I asked a few of my friends to remind me regularly. They sometimes even helped me out by taking out the notebook and pen from my bag for me, as it was not easy to take them out from a gigantic bag stuffed with many things, in a short amount of time and without bumping my bag into someone. It was especially helpful in steep, unstable, and wet paths. I realized how asking for help can help me very much mentally and physically and also prevent accidents, such as bumping my big bag to others and making them lose balance, which can lead to a serious injury. I also learned that it is important to be aware of my surroundings in order for myself and my peers to stay safe, although it can be harder since we may be very tired to have the ease to do so. From this experience, I learned to consider how I organize my things and pack, depending on how frequently I would use the object and when I would use it. For example, towards the end, I made sure to put notebooks, pens, and snacks in the small pocket where it was easily accessible so that I didn’t have to swing my bag and bump into others.

Foggy view from the mountain

During the hike, other than fulfilling our roles, it was essential to care for each other, especially towards the end of the long hike. Towards the end, we found the path especially more tiring due to fatigue. This lead to the group separating into groups: the faster group and the slower. For example, although our group was usually together on Day 1, there were times when we separated on Day 2. However, we managed to come back as a group again and finish as a group by encouraging each other and pushing ourselves to keep on going.

After dinner on Day 2, we were told that there would be an optional short hike on next day morning to see the sunrise. Despite the fact that we had to wake up early and the path was still wet, I chose to go because it was a great opportunity to do something new and because I did not want to regret it afterward. We woke up at 5 a.m. on the next morning, and although we were unable to see the sunrise due to the thick fog, I felt proud of myself for being a risk-taker and for choosing the more challenging option.

In addition to being a risk-taker, I had to push myself and maintain a positive mind in order to keep on going during the hike. For example, when there were many slippery, steep hills, I tried to overcome my fear and worry by encouraging myself that it is not dangerous and that I would be able to do it. I also tried to keep a positive mindset by thinking that if I finish the hills, I could take a rest or would have a stable, wide path. Furthermore, my peers also encouraged me and helped me complete the trail. Watching my friends also trying hard gave me the strength to push myself harder and keep up with the group. Additionally, I really appreciated when my peers told me about the slippery places because I was able to pay more attention and be careful.

Overall, although the hike was very tiring and challenging, I really enjoyed working together with my peers and seeing the beautiful sceneries every day. It was a great and new experience for me, as it enabled me to learn many new things that I could apply in different situations. As an example, through this hiking expedition, I learned that when packing, putting the heaviest things at the top makes the bag feel lighter, as the center of gravity focuses on the hip. I could apply this knowledge not only when I go hiking again but also when I go traveling or have to carry heavy, stuffed bags. Another thing I learned was to adapt to unexpected situations, such as the sudden changes in the weather in the mountains. For example, after I experienced how it can become very chilly or rainy suddenly, I made sure to pack a jacket and a raincoat at the very top so that I was able to take them out easily whenever I needed to.


Spanish – Unit 1 Reflection

Throughout this unit, we learned about hispanic art including different forms of art and their purpose and effects. We also went through the use of different tenses such as the imperfect and preterite and learned new expressions and unit vocabularies as well. I feel satisfied with my results and feel that I was able to expand my knowledge and improve my Spanish skills.

I think that my strength is using unit vocabulary and a variety of transitions in my work, which connects to doing well in my writing assessments. Trying to use new vocabularies and transitions help me memorize them, which I think leads to being able to use them for the upcoming assignments or understanding texts better. This also helps me do well in reading assessments since it helps me comprehend the text and answer questions with connections with the text. However, I feel that I still need to improve on grammar, such as the subject verb agreement and making sure the pronouns are correctly in the mascuine/feminine form, and making connections with the text when answering questions for reading assessments. Additionally, I think that my weaknesses are listening and speaking (oral). I find it challenging to comprehend what the speaker is saying right away and to follow along. I also sometimes mishear words as well. Furthermore, when I speak, I often get stuck or cannot come up with the word or expression that I am thinking of using.

Firstly, to reduce my grammar mistakes, I would like to proof read a couple of time after I finish my work such as to make sure that the subject and verb match and the pronouns are placed correctly. Additionally, to improve my listening skills, I would like to try to listen to audio, such as videos, radio, TV shows, and audio on the online Spanish textbook, more often, and additionally, more than trying to translate Spanish to English, I would like to be able to understand it right away without thinking much like I usually do with my native languages. Moreover, to improve my speaking skills, I would like to be able to conjugate verbs fluently and expand my vocabularies and expressions so that I can talk about a wider variety of things. Additionally, similar to listening, I would like to avoid translating what I want to say from English to Spanish when I speak as well.

My goal for the rest of semester one is to consistently review my notes and to keep on improving such as by expanding my vocabulary and using resources such as Quizlet and Colby.

Mis metas para Español

  1. revisar apuntes y usar recursos como Quizlet y Duolingo por lo menos tres veces por semana.
  2. leer el feedback desde previo trabajo antes de hacer las evaluaciónes.
  3. organizar apuntes bien para que puedo encontrar información que necesito rápido.
  4. usar español más en la clase en vez de usar inglés por encontrar una manera diferente de decir en español.

Vocabularios o expresiónes que aprendí
previo – previous
las evaluaciónes – assessments
en vez de – instead of
una manera – a way






RubyPhoto by Ashley Webb
                       Juliet Capulet relaxing at her garden
If anyone in the city is asked about the most popular topic discussed today, probably many will answer, “The rumor between Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague”. Surprisingly, this week, we were able to get an exclusive interview with Juliet Capulet and catch up with her. 

You’re from Verona’s richest family. What’s nice about being rich ? 
Hm…Eating delicious food and sleeping in a big bed are always the best. Our servants are kind too and they do a lot for us like doing chores and taking care of us. Someone’s always there to keep me company as well.  

Do you ever wish you were born in a normal family? If so, when?
Yeah, I’ve wished I was born in a normal family numerous times. Like for example, I wasn’t able to make any close friends because my parents would only allow me to associate with people they approve. 

Who are you most close with?
I’m super close with the Nurse because I’ve known her for ages since she’s been taking care of me from when I was a baby. She always understands my problems and she’s an important, irreplaceable person to me.

I think everyone is curious about the truth of the rumor between you and Romeo, but would you mind telling us about it?
Umm…sure, just a little. Hmm… where should I start. The rumor is true and we are going out. When we first met, we didn’t know about our families yet. Romeo affectionately approached me and we secretly met a couple of times after that. This is kind of embarrassing haha.

I’m sure every girl in Verona thinks of Paris as her ideal man because of his hot face and personality, but why wasn’t he your man?
Well, he is certainly handsome and nice. But it just didn’t feel right for me and I felt more comfortable with Romeo. I can’t think of anyone else other than him.

How did you feel when you first knew Romeo was a part of the “other” family?
I was really shocked and worried because it was when our families were especially not getting along well. I felt unsure about continuing our relationship at the beginning, but we both couldn’t help meeting each other and as a result, it deepened our love. Now that I think of it, I feel like the fact that I don’t have a strong sense of ‘enemy’ towards the Montagues since I’m usually not involved in fights, led to us ending up like this. 

I could imagine Lord Capulet’s opposition, but weren’t you scared about your father’s opposal or with your father’s ‘ideal’?
Actually, I haven’t told him about our relationship yet. But even if I had, I think I would’ve been worried about how being in the ‘other’ family will affect Romeo’s feelings towards me, more than being scared. However, I would’ve probably been crossing my fingers haha. 

Didn’t you feel mad at Romeo when you heard that Romeo killed your cousin Tybalt? Did that affect your feelings towards Romeo?
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel angry towards Romeo but I was very confused and upset. My feelings kind of wavered, but I believed in Romeo more than that. I believe that fate brought us together again.

What made you want to get in a relationship with Romeo despite the opposition or the fact that Romeo killed your cousin?
Hmm… He always makes me happy and makes me forget about bad stuff like restrictions and problems. I always have a lot of fun with him and time always fly by! Haha I’d love to spend my life with him even if I had to abandon my status.

“My only love sprung from my only hate.”

How did your view of the Montague family change between before you met Romeo and after you met Romeo?
Even though I used to think about the Montague family as our nemesis, the thought of ‘enemy’ somewhat faded. I felt the need of fixing the relationship between our families so that Romeo and I can boldly announce our relationship and be acknowledged. Haha, sounds like a long way though!

What kind of family do you hope to build?
I want to build a family that everyone in the family can be themselves and feel comfortable. I want home to be where they’ll look forward to coming back home every day.

Last but not least, I believe that there are many people in the world who are experiencing similar problems as you. Can you give them any advice?
Yeah of course! I’d say, follow your heart without getting intimidated by your surroundings because look at me. I’m very happy spending time with who I love.

La gastronomía de México

México es conocido por su la gastronomía en todo el mundo. La cocina mexicana ha sido influenciado por otras culturas como española, africana, del Oriente Medio, y asiática. Algunos de las características son la variedad de colores, sabores, y texturas de la comida. Ellos hacen la comida mejor y sabroso. Los ingredientes principales que son usado comúnmente incluyen la especia como el chile y el ají, el maíz que ha sido importante en la cocina mexicana desde tiempos prehispánicos, los frijoles, y la salsa también conocido como ‘mole’. Además, la carne incluyendo el cerdo y el pavo, el pescado como la merluza, el arroz, y finalmente, las frutas como las piñas y los melocotónes son los ingredientes principales también.

Algunos de los platos típicos populares son nachos, quesadilla, tacos, tortilla, y enchilada. Ellos son muy deliciosos y exquisitos. ¡Debe probarlos!

                             Enchiladas                                                                Tacos                                          


Los hábitos alimenticios de México: 

Usualmente, la gente en México come desayuno entre las siete y las diez en la mañana. Algunas personas solo beben café y algunas comen mucho. Los ejemplos del desayuno popular son los panes dulces o tostados, las frutas tropicales, y los yogures. Para el almuerzo, la gente mexicana comen mucho ya que es comida principal del día. Ellos comen entre la una y media y las cuatro de la tarde. Adicionalmente, la gente mexicana come la cena entre las ocho y las nueve de la noche. A menudo las personas beben la sopa o comen comida ligera. Este estilo estaba influenciado por España.

New vocab

en todo el mundo – worldwide

la característica – feature

la especia – spice

el ají – red pepper

los hábitos alimenticios – eating habits