One of the service groups I joined this year was the GIN Chiku group. This group works towards helping the homeless community in Japan. We regularly visit the Chiku center to provide lunch for the homeless people there and also try to raise awareness for the homelessness in Japan. For example, we set up a booth during food fair and prepared posters, presentations and a small scavenger hunt activity so that our audience can learn about the homeless. It is important to share what we do to help the homeless since the whole problem regarding homeless people is not a major problem in Japan but one of the problems that must be solved in order to create a better living environment.
I think that my participation to this activity helped with rising awareness of the homelessness in Japan. As we explained why there are many homeless in Japan, which is due to the collapse of the bubble economy, and how these people make a living by selling cans at Food Fair, I think our audience gained a better understanding about the homeless people and lost their negative stereotypes towards them. I wanted people to know that there are homeless people become who become homeless not because they are lazy but due to other reasons, which in Japan is the huge decrease in employment because of the collapse of the economy. Also, my participation also helped the homeless people as I helped with the meal provision for the homeless people at the Chiku center. Our contribution allowed the homeless people to have healthy meals. Also, as there were homeless people around us while we were preparing the food, I was able to talk with some of them, and was able to become a person who the homeless people can share their personal stories comfortably. As I am able to speak Japanese, I think this strength of me helped in understanding their stories better which made me understand homeless in Japan better as well. Moreover, as there were other organizations there too, I was able to learn about their stories as well such as how often they come to help and how long they have been helping. One woman I spoke with said that she has been coming to the Chiku center for seven years. I was astonished with her commitment and, by looking at how the homeless people talked to her comfortably and how she knew many people there, I felt that the homeless people there trusted her a lot.
Through this experience, I learned many new things. The most important thing I learned was the background behind the homelessness in Japan. Before I joined this group, I personally had some negative stereotypes towards the homeless people as I thought that many people did not have jobs due to their laziness or that they did not study. However, I learned that that was not the case. By understanding the cause, I also learned how large an impact a collapse of the economy can make, and by seeing the sufferers myself, I felt sympathetic towards them. Also, I did not know how the homeless people made a living before, so from now on, when I see homeless people selling cans, I will help them by purchasing them. In addition, I also learned the differences between the homeless people in Japan and those in other countries. Before learning about this, I did not realize how Japanese homeless people do not beg and are more hygiene than the people in other countries, but when I learned about it, I became “Oh, that’s true”, and became curious about the reasons. As I researched about it, I learnt that Japanese homeless people have their pride and do not want others to look at them with pity. They are also responsible about their own lives. Learning all these things made me respect the homeless people and felt bad for holding bad stereotypes towards them in the past.
Another activity I joined was the Dragon council. This group is basically the athletic council of our school and we are in charge of scoring sport games and also organizing events that are held at our school such as the IB meetings for teachers and sports day for the students. This year I regularly helped out with the games, helping out with both the scoring and the concession stand. This is important as many schools come to our school to play for the games and there must be people to score the game in order for the games to work out. Moreover, the concession stand is important as it shows the visitors how our school are happy to have them and will make our visitors feel happy and create a positive atmosphere. I also helped out in the IB meeting, which I have participated every year since I joined the Dragon Council. The job we do during this meeting is to guide the teachers, who come from all around the world, to the locations they have to be at so that they don’t get lost. This is important as the IB meeting is a very important meeting for the teachers so it is important for them to not be late for it. Also, as I talked to the teachers with a warm attitude, I made them feel welcomed, and I think that this helped in giving a good impression about our school as a whole too and would have contributed in building positive relationships between our school and other schools. I hope that my continuous contribution in helping out with many events helped the whole community!