Since 7th grade, I have been participating in the YIS Koto Ensemble, and this is my 5th year being a part of the community. During the years, the ensemble has performed in various concerts in YIS, as well as outside of school. From the amount of dedication and commitment I have put into this ensemble, I have learned the importance of perseverance, and why it is necessary for me in life.
I believe that one of the most distinctive features of a musical ensemble that distinguish from other communities is the equal value of every member of the ensemble. Every member of the group is equally as important and significant as all the other members; whether one may be the leader of the group, or one has a solo during the piece, if we take out any of the members out from the ensemble, the piece won’t sound the same. Some piece we performed had only one person in every part, so if one of the members is gone, everything will start to fall apart. Every member has both the chance to participate in the ensemble equally, as well as having the responsibility to be able to memorize and play the piece correctly. If one is not committed as the other, it is very hard for the whole ensemble to create harmony when playing a piece. Throughout my years of performing as a member of the Koto ensemble, I learned that it is important to be engaged in the community not only for yourself but for the other members’ sake as well. By showing high commitment towards the community, it can also help motivate others to become engaged as well.
During the long years of being the member of the koto ensemble, I had times where I completely lost my motivation to practice the piece, as I was being pressured with catching up with academics outside the community, and other personal issues. I lost the motivation to come to the practice, and there were times where I completely lost interest in playing koto. Despite the lack of motivation I had, I was able to challenge myself to stay persevere and continue practicing. One of the ways I was able to overcome the lack of motivation was, to think about my community and the reminding myself to fulfill the responsibility I had as a part of the ensemble member. I kept reminding myself that if I neglect in engaging in the community, it will also cause unnecessary trouble to the other members of the group, and could potentially disappoint them. Although some might consider this method to be a negative way of motivating yourself, it definitely did help me as the fact that people were dependant on me and that I was important to the community, helped motivate my self to practice koto again. With hard work and perseverance, we were able to play the piece in one of the concerts in YIS. The accomplishment I felt after performing definitely helped me understand the importance of perseverance, and the benefit it can bring. I hope that starting my 5th year this year, I can continue to be a significant part of the koto ensemble as all the others in the community.
As a bilingual student in an international community, I feel it is necessary to put by the best of my language abilities to help communicate with other individuals all across the world. With my ability to fluently speak both Japanese and English, I spent my 9th-grade year actively participating in a group called the ‘Student Ambassadors’. The main purpose of this group was to tour with families and students that are visiting YIS from all across the world. Although many were fluent in English, I have met families from many different cultures and ethnicity. Some families would only be able to speak Japanese, and I had to navigate multiple families around the school using multiple languages simultaneously. It was also our job to make the families feel comfortable, and create a safe environment for them to be able to address any questions they had in mind. In order to do so, we tried to make out tour as interactive as possible by asking them questions as well and trying to get to know them better.
The tours have definitely provided me with opportunities to interact and share cultures with other international students from a completely different culture. I was fascinated by all the questions and concerns that the families had, or the connections students have made about Yokohama International School with their previous school. Despite the students coming from a similar international school as YIS with an international baccalaureate program implemented, students show different concerns and fascination about this school and their culture. Whenever I ask about their previous school, they would share a piece of their culture, and I would always feel intrigued by how students similar to my age and even ethnicity, has a completely different story to tell. Student Ambassador is one of the great communities that I can interact with many students from different cultural background and ethnicity.
Student ambassador has not only provided me to interact with international students but also with teachers as well. In 2017 April, I was fortunate enough to participate in helping out the IB Conference held in Pacifico Yokohama. During the time at the conference, I interacted with IB teacher all across the world and was also able to learn new perspectives about how teachers believe in similar/different ways of teaching their own students. With some of the participants, I had trouble communicating them as some were not quite fluent in English, or could not speak at all. However they were all very cooperative, and I was able to guide them through the conference using hand-gestures and only using simple English words when explaining things. Many of the teachers were also intrigued by our experiences as a Japanese international student, and we were able to share our cultural experiences with others. The conference was an amazing and open-minded place for everyone to interact and share their cultural beliefs regardless of age or ethnicity. Throughout these experiences, I have learned that language and ethnic barriers can easily be broken, if one is willing to be open, and stay open-minded about others.
Photo took at the Yokohama IB Conference Held in April 2017.