At least once a year, I go to Korea with my family as a vacation. Through the multiple trips, I gained interest in the Korean culture, and I began studying Korean on my own since two years ago. During the trip I went this summer, I was able to communicate with people at shops and restaurants as well as with taxi drivers. At shops, I asked the workers whether they sell a certain product when I couldn’t find it. At restaurants, I ordered the food for my family as a representative and also helped my parents when they were paying for the food by translating between Korean and Japanese. Also, when riding on taxis, it is now my job to tell the driver where we want to go. When communicating with the local people, since Korea is a culture that values social hierarchy, I talk to the people in formal words since the people I communicate with are always older than me. Every time I communicate with the people in Korea, they always reply in Korean and some people even praised me with my Korean. From this experience, I learned how it is important to show affection towards another country and value their cultures in order to communicate peacefully and construct a good relationship with people from different countries.
When I was in 9th grade, I started going to a Japanese cram school, and this experience taught me how students attending normal Japanese schools communicate differs from how I, who go to an international school, communicate. In my school, even if we talk for the first time, we call each other in our first names. However, at my cram school, I was called by my last name when my classmates referred to me or talked to me. Moreover, since Japanese have different formality levels in the language, students talked to teachers in a formal manner. Some of my classmates even talked to me in a formal manner. In contrast, in an international school, the differences I find between the communication between two students and the communication between a student and a teacher are that students don’t use slangs as much when communicating with teachers and also call the teachers in last names. In other words, while Japanese shows social hierarchy, English doesn’t show any social hierarchy. Moreover, the attitudes are also different. Japanese people are more calm when talking to each other and wait for the other person to finish talking while they begin to talk while my friends at school sometimes convey their opinions midst someone talking. This might be because Japanese schools focus more on intelligence and the actual content they teach while international schools value social skills and expect students to share their opinions and ideas to their classmates. From these observations, I found that students attending Japanese schools communicate in a different manner from students attending international schools.
On October 6th, I went to the Chiku center in order to help the homeless community by preparing the ingredients for the food that will be distributed to the homeless. There were at least thirty homeless people in the area. Most of my job that day was to wash the vegetables. Some people from our school were in charge of cutting the vegetables. The vegetables we prepared were then used to cook the lunch for the homeless people. After the collapse of the bubble economy, many people lost their jobs, increasing the number of homeless in Japan. Therefore, the action I took helped at least some of the homeless to live and also provide a heart-warming environment where the homeless could feel the kindness of the people around them. While helping, I was also able to talk with the volunteers as well as the actual homeless which helped me increase the knowledge about the homeless people themselves as well as the different actions Japanese people take to help the homeless.
Also, on food fair (November 5th), the GIN group had a booth to spread awareness of the homeless people in Japan. We prepared posters, presentations and a small scavenger hunt activity so that our audience can learn about the homeless without being bored. 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.
For this year’s expedition, I went to Niigata. We went on a 2 nights 3 day hike. The hike was really hard and tiring, but at the same time, it was very fun and refreshing. Since we didn’t have our electronic devices with us, we were able to enjoy the nature by looking at the plants, the sky, and some bugs. We also learned to build a tent and how to cook.
An image of me and my friends building a tent
Before going to Niigata, I was really nervous since I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep up with the other people. Also, since it was my first time going on an overnight hike, I was a little scared if I was going to be able to handle everything that will occur during the hike. However, during the hike, even though it was a bit hard, I also had fun experiencing something new and the wind felt comfortable since I was sweating.
The boys looking at the view from the top of the mountain
This trip might have been a metaphor of the first day of university when I’m alone without my family and having to know about the other students who go to the same university. This is because university is a completely new part of my life and in order to get along with the people there, I have to try to get closer to them without relying on anyone else.
The wilderness that existed in Niigata such as the forests and mountains tells how the people there value the nature since I heard that the local people take a lot of time to maintain the hiking trails as well as the areas around the hiking trails. Also, since it snows a lot in Niigata, the mountains are important to invite tourists to their area so that they can enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. This leads to their benefit in economy and will help the local people’s lives by using the money they earned to make the place better.
A view of the mountains seen from the trail
In PSHE class this year, there were many things I learned. I also learned many things both at school and outside of school. I believe some of these things will have positive impacts on the way I live my life in the future.
First of all, some of the things I learned that are connected with the habits of my mind are that I think realistic most of the time through the MBTI test and that I’m not a humorous person through the VIA strengths test. Learning that I’m a realistic person helped me notice why I was bad at writing fiction stories and other things which required creativity. From now, I won’t be too sad if I get a lower grade for assessments which require fictional thinking and can find ways to improve my creativity skills. Identifying myself as a humorous person made myself act the way I actually am in front of my friends since before I learned about this, I tried hard to make my friends have a fun time by trying to be funny which sometimes caused myself being stressed. However, after learning about this, I didn’t try to become funny deliberately which made me feel more comfortable at all times.
The things I learned which are related to the healthy habits are that I learned that I feel more close to my friends by telling them my honest opinions as well as that loving yourself and being confident in yourself is a really important idea to live a happy life.