GCD – Intercultural Communication: Performance Running Athletics Club

During the summer break in 2018, I went to a running camp for two weeks to improve my sprinting technique and time. In this camp kids and teenagers from the age of 8~20 years with a lot of potential will be invited to join the camp to work on their respective events they participate in for Track and Field.

At this camp, the majority of students are from England. However there are students from non-english speaking countries such as Kenya, China, and etc. and this creates an environment that isn’t purely about trying to get better at your respective events. Instead its main focus is to get everyone to come together and learn each others cultures while aiming to improve on technical aspects.

As a sprinter, I naturally chose to join the sprint group. The sprint group had the most diverse kids and teenagers out of all the groups as there were athletes from countries in Africa, South America, as well as China. In an attempt to become friends with many of the athletes, I had to simplify my English as using more advanced English would confuse them. However this was not a problem since it was a way to get messages across and share informations and tips about what we should do next. Initially I thought using simplified terminology would make the others feel disrespected as they understand that I am numbing down my use of vocabulary to middle school level. This was not the case though. Instead they all thanked me and in turn allowed for very effective communication between the athletes from the different countries.

Through this camp I was able to teach these kids more advanced terminologies and slangs that we use in English, as well as learn a bit of vocabulary such as greetings, farewells, and asking each others names. When one of the Japanese sprinters were struggling to communicate to the coach in English, I was able to step in and help translate what he wanted to say to the coach. In turn I became very close with him and to this day we still converse and occasionally meet up and train together.

From this I learned that language isn’t a way to show off your proficiency to others but instead a way to express ones thoughts and ideas across in a way that can be understood by others.

GCD – Global Engagement: HOPE Cambodia

Education, Sanitation and Healthcare is a very important factor in our daily lives now. More so now because nowadays humans take pride in the cleanliness, how well educated a person is and the longevity of their lives. However there are the less fortunate people who lack either one of these. In Cambodia, many kids, teenagers and adults lack the basic necessities that we should have to stay healthy and progress through life.

Last year I took part in the HOPE Cambodia group and had the opportunity to visit Cambodia and help build a school as well as building a well for a family. Not only this but we got to visit families who were on the waiting list to receive a well and saw that they were living in conditions far worse than any other person I’ve ever seen. This struck a cord in myself. I was shocked to see how a major event, the Khmer Rouge, was able to change the lives of everyone in Cambodia. From this, I desperately wanted to help the Cambodians in any way I could. These families had to walk over 3km in order to grab a bucket full of water and walk another 3km back to their home. This should not be the way families, especially older families live. Some of these families don’t even receive the healthcare that their government should be giving.

Through this sudden realisation that the poor are much poorer than we see on T.V advertisement gave me the urge to work hard in building the school and wells for these fortunate families.

During the building of the school, it wasn’t just us YIS students and the construction workers than HOPE has hired, but also the young students that would be attending the school after the construction is complete. These kids were much more fortunate than many families in Cambodia and we had the opportunity to learn their native tongue, Khmer, and they were able to learn a few English words. At times we used hand gestures and sound effects to get images and our thoughts across to each other. This was all part of the learning curve if we were to collaborate and engage with each other.

Through this small engagement we had with our sister schools in Cambodia, I realised how grateful we should all be with what we’ve got. However we definitely need to make steps towards giving some healthcare, wells for sanitation and drinking water, and most importantly education for young kids. Although I am no longer is HOPE Cambodia, what I have learned in this trip will stick with me forever, and I’ll use this to help with charity work whenever possible. Even changing 1% of someones life can mean the whole world to them.

GCD – Community Engagement: Underwater Explorer

Every year we are dumping more and more trash into the oceans. In 1975, the National Academy of Sciences estimates that “14 billion pounds of garbage was being dumped into the ocean every year” (Paul Joyce). With our garbage entering the oceans, it leads to the decomposition of the organic material that has pre-existed causing the biodiversity to change and in most cases is not a good thing. With this kind of information it is vital for us to make sure to we are keeping a track of the different¬† species of fish, corals, and changes in temperature underwater. It is unfortunate to have to see the aquatic life that we humans need in order to survive go extinct because of the amount of things we throw away or the dumping of chemical compounds in the ocean.

In Underwater Explorer Club at Yokohama International School, we have teamed up with Project Baseline. Project Baseline is an organisation that records underwater data by taking photographs of different underwater landmarks over a long period of time in order to understand what exactly the pollution and climate change is affecting underwater. We have started helping Project Baseline collect data last year.

When the Underwater Explorer Club goes out for a dive trip over the weekend or holidays, we go to specific dive locations such as Atami, or Osezaki. When we go on these dive trips, although it is for our enjoyment, our mission is to snap a shot of one of the landmarks underwater. Since we are the start-up group, as this club grows, we hope that the next generation of YIS students will continue this data collection that will help Project Baseline as well as us find different ways that we can reduce the amount of damage being done to the aquatic environment. While I acquired my Advanced Diving Licence at my trip at Atami last year, I was able to see the damage garbage was doing to the environment. During one of our dives, we dove to a shipwreck that was roughly around 22 metres underwater. I was amazed to see plastic bags, and wrappings being tangled within the shipwreck.

By seeing trash being tangled in the environment even as deep as 22 metres, amazed me. In a very negative way. Something that I took for granted in the past and thought that the world would take care of itself is not true at all. Although nature will always beat humankind, it has made me realise that without us cleaning the ocean, nature will only come back at us even worse. I had the urge to pick up the trash and take it with me to the surface which I indeed did. Even taking a small amount of trash from the environment can do wonders to the aquatic life.

Unlike other service activities, this service activity does not make me feel fortunate to be living the life I am. Instead it made me feel like trash, pun intended.¬† Not many people get to experience what it’s like to be underwater seeing the slow process of devastation that we are causing. Since not many people are able to get a divers license, even trying to recycle and use less waste products will help the aquatic life in the long term.

I strongly hope that my actions from the Underwater Explorer’s club will inspire others to join and get a license to help the Underwater Explorer club collect and then clean the environment in order to even reduce wastes being dumped into the ocean, even if it is by 1%.

Shin Okinawa Expedition Reflection

What we learned from this trip:

A couple weeks ago the grade 10 had an expedition. I went to the Okinawa Diving Expedition. Through the Okinawa Diving Expedition, I learned many things. We learned how to control our buoyancy under the water, how to help our buddies when he/she is in trouble. We also learned different hand signals in order to communicate with a group. In my group, we learned how to tell whether or not an aquatic creature is poisonous or not. We also learned skills while we were at the hotel and on Taketomi island. For example, we learned how to manage our time more efficiently because every night we had an assessment that we had to pass. The day before we had to leave to go back to Tokyo, we went to an island called Taketomi. On Taketomi island, we learned how to use our time wisely while enjoying each others company without the teachers super vision.

What did I get through this experience:

From this expedition, I was able to attain the PADI Beginner Open Water Diving Certificate. This allows me to be able to take more advanced courses and maybe I could become an instructor if I tried hard.

How does it connect with things you know:

This expedition made me feel a lot closer to the aquatic life. Since we got to hear things that only aquatic life can hear.

What Risks did I take:

The main risk that I took in order achieve the certificate was the guts to even attempt and learn how to dive properly. At first it was a scary thought to even think about diving since there are risks of death and paralysis.