Participating in an University Academic Summer Program at Yale

During the summer of 2018, in between the end of Grade 10 and the beginning of Grade 11, I participated in an academic summer program called the Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) from June 17th to June 30th. The session that I got accepted to was the International Affairs and Security session and I was able to learn a lot about the topic that I would not have learned in my school curriculum. Over the course of two weeks, I had eight lecture, eight seminars, one simulation, which was like a Model United Nations conference, and a group project called the Capstone project where we had to decide on a topic and do a presentation about it on one of the last days. Some lectures that I listened to were from well-known professors and experts on their topic, so their lectures were really interesting and detailed. One lecture that I enjoyed was about the US intervention in Iraq from a person who used to work at the UN in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Jordan, and currently works at Yale University. Even though this topic was something that I was not very familiar with, I got to learn a lot more about it and understood the controversy associated with it; whether US’s military intervention was actually beneficial to solving the problems occurring in Iraq and the Middle East. After each lecture, we also had a discussion class where I got to debate about the topic we just got lectured on and see different perspectives/opinions on it from students all around the world. Another part of the program that stuck with me was the seminars. The subjects of each of the seminars were all debatable and intriguing, making me think about them even long after it was over. The seminar that I found the most fascinating was a seminar about the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh and whether if international communities have the responsibility to intervene or not. This seminar raised many questions about what it means to be an international citizen and how countries should interact with each other in our current world.

Capstone Proposal

However, it was not just about the academics but also the people and the experience as a whole. As mentioned earlier, the program was for students all over the world and more than 100 countries were represented, including ones that I have never even visited or paid much attention to. Because of the wide variety, the friends I made there was also very international; from places such as Canda, United States, Zimbabwe, China, and Slovakia. This meant that I could even feel the differences as well as unexpected similarities between people around the world in such minor conversations like the ones over a dinner. This not only opened up my mind to a wide variety of perspectives and cultures but made me view the world differently. Before I came to the program, my understanding of the world was still limited even with my experiences living abroad and studying at international schools. However, the program opened up my eyes and inspired me, making me more interested in international current affairs. Moreover, I learned how my friends’ lives are nothing like the ones I’ve had and how something I view normal might seem extraordinary to them. From these discussions and conversations, I realized the importance of understanding and respecting each other’s cultural backgrounds in order to overcome the differences between us.

International Affairs and Security Session

This summer program was a valuable experience for me in gaining knowledge about the interactions between countries around the world and the controversial world topics and issues that we are faced with today. Furthermore, it opened up my perspectives of the world and taught me the importance of respect in these inter-cultural communications. Finally, this program also allowed me to learn more about myself and what I am actually interested in pursuing, even in the future. Even now, a few months after the experience, I find myself still thinking about the issues that we discussed and the knowledge I gained through it. This taught me that I am genuinely interested in the topics covered in the program, maybe more so from the legal perspective, helping me with think further about what kind of a future I want for myself.

Academica Skills

In my high school life, I have demonstrated several academic skills, such as research, organization and collaboration skills, in a variety of classes. To begin with, research skill is an academic skill that I used in most of my assignments for almost all of my classes. By using this skill, I was able to find reliable information that helped me see the issue from different perspectives. For example, in Grade 10 Individuals and Societies class, we had to write a history essay about our chosen research question using the research that we did in previous classes. For my essay, I chose to answer the question “To what extent did medical science evolve during the Edo period due to the interaction with the Dutch?”. In order to answer this question, I had to research with a range of reliable sources and identify the biases of each source, depending on who it was written by. Moreover, I had to be careful of the time the source was created in because time is a key factor when researching about history. Here is the research outline that I made for this assignment. Another assignment that I used my research skill was when I wrote an opinion blog post on the use of e-cigarettes and whether it is the solution to the tobacco epidemic or not. For this assignment, I had to find sources from both sides: ones that were for using e-cigarettes instead of tobacco, and others that were against using e-cigarettes. Then, I had to validate and synthesize this information to come up with an argument of my own. Both of these assignments developed my research skills because I am now able to understand that research is not just about the top hits but about reliability and the sources themselves; when it was created, whom it was written by, and so on.

The second academic skill is the organization skills. I believe that this was one of the skills that grew the most in my high school life because of all the assessments that I had to go through. For example, the whole of Grade 10 challenged my organization skill because of the Personal Project. The Personal Project added to the workload we had from all the other classes, making it very hard for me to catch up and make sure everything finished on time. To overcome this challenge, I made a schedule of all the due dates for assignments, including the Personal Project, in one place so that I can compare and see how much I need to work beforehand to complete some assignments. This was especially useful during the last few months of Personal Project because there were so many tasks to complete, like the essay, the product, and the process journal. However, now that it is over, I realize how managing my time lead to my success in Personal Project because it relieved my stress and allowed me to concentrate on work. Another time I demonstrated my organization skill was in Art and Design. For both classes, I had to finish making a project by a set date and even though it seemed like a lot of time, I had to make sure to manage my time well because the project was both very big. To finish this, I had to come before and after school, as well as on some weekends to the classes so that I completed what needed to be done for each stage. During this process, the plan that I created beforehand helped me a lot because I had small deadlines and stages in the plan that guided me and told me what I needed to get done by when. As you can see from both of the examples, there were many times my organization skill was challenged that helped me to become good at organizing.

Lastly, I demonstrated my collaboration skills whenever I had a group project in any of my subjects. From these experiences, I learned how to work as a team and the importance of listening and accepting different ideas and opinions. One example of this was the Further Oral Activity assignment that I did in English class with my partner. The assignment was about exploring the magazine’s brand through the different text types presented in their magazine. My partner and I decided to do this presentation in the format of a conversation between two chief editors of two different magazines; the Maclean’s and the New Yorkers. To complete the assignment, we both assigned tasks to each other and made deadlines on what we each needed to do by when. By making this timeline, we had time to practice the actual presentation before the real deadline. In the beginning, we had trouble coming up with the format of the presentation because we did not have a common idea. So, to solve this we came up with a new idea together, not individually and decided how it will go together as well. This lead to our success because we both understood what we had to do and were happy with how it was done. Another time that I demonstrated my collaboration skill was in Physical Education class when we had to choreograph and dance performance in groups of three. For this, my group decided to dance to Singing in the Rain and we thought of the choreography together. Some times along the way, we argued a little because we had different ideas but overcame those by combining the ideas together into one. From these assignments, I learned to collaborate with different people and how groupwork can achieve more than individual work.

All these academic skills that I demonstrated were not only demonstrated in these examples but in more places and more times. These helped me to grow as a learner and will continue to do so even in the future.

Learning French

French is my third language, after Japanese and English, that I have started learning when I was in 6th grade. This was because I used to live in a French-speaking region of Switzerland and I had difficulties communicating with the locals without any knowledge of French. This language acquisition continues to this day, even in High School and the DP program, teaching me not only French but also about language, communication, and culture. After a few years of learning French, I found out that French shared some similarities with English, which I am fluent in. For example, there are words that are really close to its actual English translation such as particulierment (particularly) and information (information) but with different pronunciations. Moreover, the grammar of the sentences and the order in which words are placed are very similar. However, I found differences as well such as the feminine and masculine words of French. As this idea of feminine and masculine words are not used in either Japanese or English, it was new and hard to get used to at the beginning.

Now that I can speak, write, read and understand French to an intermediate level I begun learning about its culture as well through ways such as watching French movies, reading French stories, learning about French traditions and idioms. These taught me a lot about what France, as a country, is like as well as its culture and how similar or different to the countries of which I speak its languages fluently. It was very interesting to learn and experience French culture because it was something that I was always interested in, as I have visited the country a few times when I used to live in Switzerland.

With this knowledge, I once tried to help a French-speaking tourist find her way in Tokyo. In the beginning, she asked me in English but she seemed to be lost a little, so I told her that I can speak a little bit of French. She then told me that she was looking for a train station and since I knew where she was talking about, I tried to tell her. However, I found it very difficult to teach her exactly where she needs to go because I was not very fluent or natural with French. So, in the end, I ended up using some English words as well as gestures to convey my thoughts to her. This was a valuable experience that made me realize that even though languages are important in communication with others, there are also other ways that we can communicate such as gestures and facial expressions. From this, I learned the importance of communication tools other than languages, teaching me how I can improve my communication with others in the future.

Playing the Violin

Playing the violin is something I have started when I was young and continue to this day. Outside of the school, I take lessons with a teacher where we have a concert every year, and at school, I am a part of a string ensemble called the Tanner Ensemble. Moreover, I was part of an orchestra that played in the High School graduation ceremony. When playing individually at my lessons outside of the school, I try to interpret the songs by myself and try to play so that the notes from my violin stands out. This

is especially important when I play in the annual concerts that we have because I have to be careful so that I would be in synch with the background piano but also stand out at the same time. However, this is completely different when I play with others in an orchestra because then, I have to play so that I do not stand out compared to others and listen carefully to the melody of other instruments. I also feel like I have to follow the music sheet more closely with the dynamics, tempo, and pitch because we have to play as one. Even with these difficulties, I really like it when different instruments and different parts of the orchestra harmonizes together to create a new sound.

From these practices, I learned many skills such as the skill to adapt accordingly to the environment as well as collaboration and social skills. For example, I learned the skill to adapt accordingly to the environment because I had to change my play style depending on whether I was playing by myself or as part of an orchestra. This learning can be used in other areas of my life such switching from classes to outside classes. When I am in class, I need to make sure to listen to teachers and my peers and behave in a way that is appropriate for school. However, if I am outside of school with my friends, I can have more fun and act, however, I want to. The other skills that I developed, which are my collaboration and social skills, were mainly from my experiences playing as a part of an orchestra. Whenever I am playing with an orchestra I need to work effectively with others and listen carefully to their sound as well so that I can synchronize with them. Moreover, even when we are not playing, being in an orchestra taught me the importance of respect and engaging well with others. All these knowledge that I gained is transferable anywhere in my life, like friends, family, school, and workplace. Therefore, playing the violin not only improved my music skills but also taught me to become more adaptable to the environment and to work collaboratively with others.

Grade 10 Niigata Snow Expedition

From March 12th to 16th, we went to Niigata for a snow expedition. Even before going to the expedition, I was excited to gain new experience to widen my comfort zones. Also, I wanted to get away from the constant Internet-based, noisy, life that I have right now for a short amount of time.

 

Hiking With Snowshoes

Building the Quinzee

On the first day that we arrived, we did an exercise to appreciate silence by just sitting in the snow for 20 minutes by ourselves. For me, that experience felt very short and I was able to realize how noisy my everyday life is and how I usually don’t take time to sit back and think because my ears rang with silence. On the second day, we made a snow cave that we would be sleeping in on the next day. This was a new experience for me as and I learned how tiring it is because we were all in our T-shirts when shoveling snow. The next day, we packed our bags for camping and went hiking with snowshoes. During the hike, we collaborated together as a group by caring for each other and matching the walking pace so that everyone feels comfortable walking. That night, we came back to our snow caves and cooked dinner for ourselves. After dinner, I slept inside the snow cave for the first time in my life in an extreme heat-insulated sleeping bag.  On the fourth day, we came back to the lodge that we were staying and skied for the rest of the day. It had been about 3 years since the last time I skied, so I was surprised to see how much I remembered how to ski.

 

Inside the Quinzee

Through this experience, I learned the importance of shared leadership and silence. Firstly, I learned how leadership does not need to be just one person leading the whole group. During the hike, we all cared for each other and looked out for each other to collaborate effectively. For example, when a person tripped the person behind them would call out to all the group members to stop and wait for a second until he/she stood up again. It was because of this shared leadership that we managed to complete the hike safely on that day. Secondly, I realized through this expedition how important silence is. Silence gives us time to think, relax and reflect on anything or nothing. In our current everyday lifestyles where there is constant noise – whether it be the cars, the construction sites, the phones, and the people – we usually do not take to just sit back and do nothing and our bodies and minds are restless most of the time. Therefore, from now on, I would like to take some time once in a while to just sit back and relax. Overall, I really enjoyed this meaningful experience because I was able to gain a new perspective on the world and the lifestyle I go through every day.

 

What Being Bilingual in Japanese and English Means To Me

I am a Japanese student, who has pure Japanese blood, as all my parents and grandparents are Japanese. Our first language is all Japanese and this can be said for me as well. However, I have lived in a few countries around the world since I was young, beginning with Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Switzerland. These experiences of living in foreign countries gave me the opportunity to go to international schools, where English is the first language. Through my school life in international schools, I was able to become fluent in not only Japanese but also English, making me a bilingual student. There are several things about what being bilingual means for me.

Firstly, I think being bilingual allows me to become a communicator, who is able to communicate with a very wide range of people. While Japanese may not be as spoken around the world as English, it is still a language that some other languages share some similarities with, such as Chinese. English, on the other hand, is one of the most spoken languages in the world and I am able to communicate in English in most countries that I go to. I feel like this fact opens up a lot of opportunities for me to do what I want and to have a voice in the society. An example when being bilingual helped me become a better communicator was when I translated some Japanese documents into English and vice versa for NGOs. One NGO is HOPE International Development Agency, where I did a short internship, as reflected in this post, and during the internship, I reflected a wide range of documents from Facebook posts to progress reports and letters.

Secondly, bilingualism makes me a better learner. This is because I am able to learn knowledge in two contexts, Japanese and English, and this not only deepens my understanding of the topic but also gives me more than one perspective to look from. Since I learned how perspective people look from even on the same topic is heavily influenced by the language they speak and their cultural background, being bilingual allows me to see from several cultural backgrounds and perspective, giving me ideas on the difference and similarities between countries.

Lastly, being bilingual helps me to become an inquirer. As I have experienced going to both Japanese and English schools, I realized how different they are from each other in terms of what we learn as well as how we learn them. This experience opened up more paths for my curiosity because there are unique learning to be had in both kinds of schools. For example, through my current international school, I became interested in playing badminton as well as learning about the issue of poverty. On the other hand, the Japanese school that I went to when I was in elementary influenced me to become more adaptive to the environment and made me a better collaborator with other people.

As these show, I believe that being bilingual has many meanings for me, that are all very important. Now that I have written this reflection, I feel glad that I was given the opportunity to become a bilingual student and I would like to make sure that I will remain bilingual throughout the rest of my life.

Personal Project – Raising Awareness About the Barriers of Escaping Poverty in Japan and Cambodia

As part of my Personal Project, I decided to raise awareness about the barriers poor people face when escaping the poverty cycle in Japan and Cambodia. A poverty cycle is when a poor person lacks access to more than one areas of basic needs such as water and food, creating a cycle that is very hard for them to escape from by themselves. To achieve this goal, I decided to make a choose your own adventure that provides a simulation of poverty in both Cambodia and Japan, showing what kind of barriers the poor face even in their daily lives. The reason I chose to Cambodia and Japan is because firstly, I am in the HOPE Cambodia Service Club and secondly, because I am Japanese and I recently learned how Japan has an unexpectedly high poverty rate. This goal was a challenging goal for me because I have never made anything like a choose your own adventure book with this much research put into it. As the topic of poverty is an issue that requires very specific and accurate knowledge, I had to make sure that I had reliable sources that I can trust as well as some opinion sources from different perspectives. In order to collect these research, I searched online for news articles, reports, websites, videos and other secondary sources as well as conducted an interview with Ms. Elena Omura from HOPE International Development Agency. The interview was especially hard for me because it required me to use my communication skill to a high level, but it was worthwhile because I was able to gain meaningful insights on the issue of poverty that I would not have gotten anywhere else.

When planning action for this project, I made an action plan, as you can see in the screenshot below. I used a table format because I find it easy to organize information this way. It is also easy to readjust the plan as it is digital. This action plan really helped me get through the project because I knew what I had to do by when and become organized with other school tasks or extracurricular activities. In the action plan, I have several columns: tasks, the time required, resources, notes/reflections and date completed. Although there were times when I had to change the action plan, it was still helpful.

 

Screenshot of Action Plan

Throughout the project, I recorded what I did on each step in my Process Journal, which can be seen in the screenshot below. In the Process Journal, I included reflection on what I did, what learner skills I used, and what I might do for the next step.

Screenshot of A Process Journal Entry

Here is the product I made, which is a choose your own adventure of the situations of poverty in Cambodia and Japan:

Personal Project Product

I am very proud of the accomplishments that I managed through this project because I have never done anything like this before and all the research that I conducted were very new to me. Moreover, the creation of the product itself was new to me too, and the time management that this project required of me was also another challenge that I was able to overcome. Through this project, I learned a lot of new knowledge on poverty, especially in Cambodia and Japan, and how it is extremely difficult for people suffering from extreme poverty to escape the poverty cycle by themselves. Therefore, the experience made me more interested and motivated to help combat the issue of poverty around the world through advocacy, donations, and other forms of services.

Cambodia Service Learning Trip

 

Local Children That Will Be Attending the School We Helped Build

School Construction

A Classroom

A Tool Used to Stamp the Rocks and the Sand

The Corridor of the School

Well Construction

From February 4th to February 12th, 2018, I went on a service learning trip to Cambodia to directly help out people suffering from poverty. Even before going on the trip, I was looking forward to getting a new inspiring experience because I have never done anything like this before. Moreover, since I have already had several background knowledge about poverty in Cambodia through my internship experience at HOPE International Development Agency and my Personal Project, I was excited to actually see the reality of what I only knew through data and research. However, there were mainly two worries which were that I did not know what kind of service I was exactly going to offer to the people of Cambodia and whether I was going to be able to adapt to such a new environment from where I currently live, Japan.

During the trip, I arrived at Phnom Penh, then moved to the poor province of Pursat and then moved to Siem Reap. It was in the Pursat province that I did most of my service activity. The Pursat province is known as one of the poorest provinces in the poor country of Cambodia and there are many people living in remote areas where they have no access to basic needs such as education and water. In the Ankrong village that we stayed at, we helped build a school there that was supplied by the donations made previously by the HOPE Cambodia Service Club at my school, which I am a part of. The school that we were building had three classrooms and was for children in the middle school. Since the base of the school was already there, we began with placing rocks on the floor of these three classrooms. Then, we carried piles of sand on top of the rocks and poured water all over the sand and rocks to stamp them down to create a flat surface. Children from the local area that will be attending the school came and helped out with the construction too. Over the period of three days, we continued this work and I was able to

become friends with some of the children even with the language barrier. After helping out with the school construction, we went to another part of the Pursat province to help build a well for a family living in a remote area. The family consisted of a grandmother, a mother, a father and two children. I was shocked to hear that the mother was 16, the same age as me. They were living in a small shack made of scrap metal and wood pieces. There, we used concrete to create a floor for the well that was already implemented. After the well construction, we visited two families that are on the waiting list for getting a well next year or the year after. One family lived in a house that had no proper roof and the other family had a mother that had a neck

tumor and a father with an injured leg. The two families both had to walk around 6km to get to a nearby river every day, where they can only collect contaminated water. It was hard to listen to their reality and how poverty affects their daily lives. However, it all taught me a very important lesson that I would have never learned anywhere else. As both the school and the well construction that I helped out with is a type of sustainable service, which means that it is not a one-time service that provides basic necessities such as water and education, I feel like I was able to contribute and make a small difference in the lives of people in Cambodia.

From this experience, I was able to gain a lot of new knowledge and my perspective on poverty changed drastically. One important knowledge I gained was through the construction of both the school and the well, where I learned how fortunate I am to be in a position where I have no trouble getting education or water. I go to school every day without any second thought and I would get clean, drinkable water if I just turn the tap. However, this trip taught me that this is not ordinary. Not everybody in the world has access to these. That I should not take them for granted. This became especially clear when I visited the families who had no wells because their lives were completely different from mine and I still remember how the mother of one of the family said: “I want a roof and a bicycle if I have more money”. This comment on wanting a roof and a bicycle really shocked me and I did not know what to say. Another important knowledge that I gained was about the importance of reaching out to other people. Everyone is born the same way and it is just a matter of chance that I was born in a Japanese family that does not have to suffer from extreme poverty and a Cambodian child was born into their poor household. This means that it could have been any of us suffering from lack of clean water or food. Therefore, I understood how important helping others is and even a small donation can add up to make a huge donation that creates things such as schools and wells. This trip made me recognize and rethink the purpose of raising awareness and fundraising for people in poverty, making me more interested and motivated than ever to further continue with this activity.

As mentioned earlier, there was also a significant change in the way I viewed poverty before and after the trip. Before going on the trip, I knew that poverty is an issue that needs to be dealt with and that there were many people suffering from it. I also knew how people did not have access to clean water or food, or even education or jobs. I even knew that people lived in shacks with diseases but without proper education. But, I realize now that these knowledge were just knowledge. It was not understanding. As I went on the trip and met actual people suffering to survive each day, the reality was added to each of this knowledge and they turned into understandings. I no longer viewed poverty as just a global issue but an ongoing, real-life issue that actual real people suffer from. An issue that I feel motivated to be involved in. Therefore, this trip opened my eyes to a brand new perspective and a new-found strong interest in combatting the issue of poverty.

This trip will not be the end because I rather feel like it was a new beginning for me in working for poverty. The experience that I gained from this trip will definitely transfer in many areas of my future life and will surely affect who I am. If I could go on the trip one more time, I would definitely choose to go but even if I cannot, I will keep supporting in the best way I can through indirect services like fundraising and raising awareness.

Tennis

I have been learning tennis since I was small and from the beginning of High School, I have joined the school’s tennis team. The tennis season is from September to November every year and our tennis team participates in a big tournament every year and small matches against other schools. After November to before September, I play tennis in a local tennis club twice every week. In Grade 9, I was one of the girl’s doubles 2 players at the school and participated in the AISA tennis tournament. This was a tournament between four schools, Senri Osaka International School, Seoul International School, Korean International School and Yokohama International School. In the tournament, my partner and I became 5th out of all the girl’s doubles group. In Grade 10, I became the singles 3 player of the school tennis team and participated in the Kanto tennis tournament, where several schools in the Kanto plain competed against each other. In this tournament, I went to the quarterfinals of the consolation. Even though I did not get the consolation award, I was proud of how much I was able to play. In my regular practices at the local tennis school, I practice some specific skills each lesson and apply them in a game at the end of the lesson. For example, in my last tennis lesson, we learned how to return low, sliced balls. When tennis balls are sliced, it means that there is a backward spin applied to the opponent and the ball does not bounce very much. This makes it hard for me to receive the ball, especially if it is low, so the coach taught us that we should return by applying forward spin to the ball and dropping our stance so that we are level with the ball. Through this regular physical wellness practices, I am able to keep my body fit and develop my muscles as well as other body functions such as the cardiovascular systems. I believe that this is important because I am still in the midst of growing my body and having regular practices help me to grow more healthily and strongly. Moreover, these practices sometimes become a good way to release my stress and just enjoy moving my body. When I have a lot of work due and am stressed out, I can exercise and play tennis, which makes me loosen up a little and restart my work refreshed, improving my mental wellness as well. In terms of mental wellness, I also feel happy and focused when playing tennis so even if there were disappointing or sad events previously, playing tennis lifts my mood greatly. Therefore, tennis has been a great part of my life as it improves my wellness in both the physical and the mental aspects.

IASAS MUN Conference

From November 8th to 12th, I went Bangkok, Thailand to participate in the IASAS MUN Conference along with 9 other students from YIS. Before going there, I was very nervous because I have heard many stories from students who previously went to an IASAS Conference and how it was very high level. Since it was only my second year of MUN, I was not sure if I will be able to participate in the conference as much as I would like to. For the conference, I was allocated Saudi Arabia in the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) and the topics of the debate were:

  • The question of mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on economic development.
  • The question of ensuring compliance with non-discrimination and non-coercion standards in labor markets.
  • The question of the use of unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries.

Before going there, I researched about Saudi Arabia’s stance on these three issues and wrote a position paper as well as some resolution clauses. Here is the link to my potion paper and my resolution clauses. At the actual day, I was a little scared but also excited. The conference started with each of the countries giving a 1.5 min speech on their stance and when it was my turn I was able to get up and say my speech. This gave me confidence and after that, I did a for speech, POI (Point of Information) and participated in a moderated caucus. After the second day, we broke off from our committees and had a General Assembly where we discussed some topics from different committees as well as had an emergency crisis. The emergency crisis was a cyber attack from either China, Russia, or United States where the Internet shut down and was having a big impact on the economy. It was actually fun and interesting to debate about this and write a resolution on it. Overall, it was a great experience where I got to understand the world in more detail, developed my debating skill and got more confidence talking in front of an audience.

From this experience, I was able to gain a better understanding of the differences and similarities between the countries in terms of economic, social, political and other points of view. The main takeaway for me has been my learning on the power/privilege of women and men in Saudi Arabia that is closely related to the religion of Islam. Firstly for the power/privilege of women and men in Saudi Arabia, I learned that the rights that are granted to each gender are very different. For example, in Saudi Arabia, there is a legal ‘guardianship’ system where men become the ‘guardians’ of women and have the right to control almost all parts of the women’s rights. This means that a woman cannot go to school, travel, shop or even get certain medical treatments without the permission of her male guardian. I thought this difference in power and privilege given to the separate genders were unfair for the women because they are unable to do what they want to do and their social advancement is very limited. Compared to where I am from, which is Japan, I realized that Saudi Arabia’s case is very different from that of Japan. Even though Japan is not the most gender-equal country in the world, it is still more equal than Saudi Arabia but at the same time, it is also working towards a more equal society for all by encouraging more women to work and have a leadership role in them. This made me notice that the different steps each country must take to achieve gender equality if very different because the situations and the cause of it depend on each country.

I also learned about the influence of religion on this difference in power and privilege, which is my second main takeaway. According to the research that I have done, I found out that the reason Saudi Arabia regards women as inferior compared to men is because they claim that the Qur’an and the Shariah law states so. It is true that there are some verses in the Qur’an or the Shariah law that suggest this but, I still believe that it is too severe in Saudi Arabia’s case. However, the issues related to religion is a very sensitive topic and I recognize that it is not an easy issue to solve. For this reason, it was difficult for me to debate and convince the other side about the role of women in society during the meeting. While other Arab nations and some Islamic countries agreed to my points, the European countries and American countries totally opposed to Saudi Arabia’s stance, so in the end, we were not able to pass a resolution during our council. However, all that I have learned about the influence of religion on the country have changed my perspective about gender equality and made me understand that some issues are harder to solve than others because they are related to what people believe, which is something others cannot control.

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