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.