GCD – Global Understanding

During summer break, I had the opportunity to study in New York for a month. It was my first time in the mainland of US although I have been to Hawaii several times. During the visit, I took courses such as politics and human rights, and speech and debate. We had unlimited train passes and were free to go to almost anywhere we wanted, however, there were some boundaries to where we were allowed to travel. I could tell that the boundaries were not chosen due to the distance from the school, as I stayed in a dorm at a university on 116th street but 125th street was off boundaries.

I asked one of the assistant directors of the program of why some areas are off limits, regardless of the distance. Apparently, 125th street is a slum area where crimes are frequent and where there are lots of homeless people. Most areas off limits had a similar reason. Thinking of homeless people, I noticed the difference in the number of homeless people around between New York, Japan, and Hawaii.

In Japan, homeless people are close to unnoticed, I almost never noticed homeless people around before I joined Chiku in 11th grade. I have never seen homeless people in Tokyo, and even when I saw news about homeless people, I never thought about it seriously. In Hawaii, there are homeless people but there are only a few of them and very unnoticeable. However, although New York is a famous tourist area there were a lot of homeless people even just when walking a few blocks to go to the supermarket.

For my final project for politics and human rights class, I researched about homeless people. The major factors for the difference were political, geographical, and economic factors. In New York, a lot of homeless people are descendants or immigrants or refugees from other countries, and some are even sent from other states of US from other reasons or problems.

The geographical location of Hawaii and Japan makes immigrants harder to immigrate from other countries which explain the difference in the number of homeless people. However, from research, I figured out that some homeless people in Hawaii are sent from the mainland of the US as Hawaii is warmer in climate, therefore increases the survival rate of homeless people in the winter. I felt like this is a good idea regarding the survival of the homeless people, however, I think this would make the homeless people harder for social rehabilitation. I also think it is a stress for the homeless people as they would be sent to a new ground where they might have never been before.

Another factor for people to become homeless people is economic factors. There is a connection between the great depression (US) and homeless people now, as well as the bubble crash (Japan) and homeless people now. The similarities between the two are that in both cases, a lot of people became homeless people due to the loss of jobs. Although the great depression was recovered, it was recovered by increasing the number of jobs, leaving people homeless.

In contrast, the bubble crash was recovered from the Korean War which created more jobs from the war, decreasing the unemployment rate. The chances of social rehabilitation would increase as they would already have a job and would just have to transfer jobs, which is easier compared to finding a job from zero.

My experience at New York triggered me into understanding the different situations for homeless people. An act that I have done to help the homeless is joining Chiku to help the homeless directly by making and serving food, and gathering donations. I aim to take the knowledge I gained from this experience to play my little part to make a large change in the world.

Criteria: You demonstrate a personal understanding of, and perspective on, the relationship between Power/Privilege and any of the following:
with reference to more than one context.

GCD – Inter-Cultural Communication

This year I have traveled to Korea for my volleyball tournament at an International School in Korea. Korea is a country where the people there do not speak English or Japanese, but only speak Korean which is a language I do not speak. When I travel somewhere with my family we go to a country where English or Japanese is a language of communication, so I almost never had problems with language with my life. Although I have gone to Korea several times, I was with several friends who could speak Korean.

During the tournament, I was homestayed by a Korean student. Although the student spoke English, I had problems communicating with her mother sometimes as she only spoke Korean. During the first day, I called my homestay to come and translate what I wanted to say. However, I have changed over the next couple of days. I used gestures and body language to communicate with her mother, and she even understood when I wanted my (and my teammate’s) uniform washed for the next day. I was personally surprised by the power of the language of gestures, and this experience also taught me how much gestures are important in communication with language.

On the last day, we had spare time at the airport, therefore, some of us went to Lotte Mall in the airport to shop. First, I was with 2 of my teammates, however, we lost each other when we were shopping at different shops (which were next to each other). As we had a meeting time, we decided to meet there. As it was my sister’s birthday, I decided to get makeup for her birthday present, so I looked around various shops. I found a shop that I liked, however, I did not know which colors to buy, and in addition, the price was not shown. I knew my sister wanted a variety of red makeup, but I could not choose for her, and as Korea is a country of beauty and makeup, I wanted to ask the shop assistant. She did not speak English at all.

Although I tried using gestures to convey my message, it seemed like they did not understand. I saw the limit of gestures there. I was thinking of a way to communicate my ideas. I thought of a way. A very major but an accurate way. I was so happy to have wifi and google translate on my phone. This was actually my first time using google translate in my whole life and it worked amazingly. I was able to ask the price of the makeup, and she also helped me choose colors for my sister.

This experience made me feel very proud of myself. Although I was alone, I had been able to communicate my own thoughts accurately to the shop assistant. Before this experience, I have always felt the border in language, making me hesitant to go to areas where I could not speak the language. After this experience, I feel like the world is now so small, with the technology. I really felt how we can use technology to communicate with many different people in different areas of the world.

I also felt the value in different cultures. As I mentioned earlier, Korea is a country of beauty, selling different makeup. The people there have a different sense of makeup, and I really value this as I personally like Korean style makeup better. Now I really am excited to go to different countries where I am interested in without thinking of the language barriers as I now know how to communicate using different strategies and techniques.