Special Olympics 2017 – Table Tennis at Kanagawa


Today, I volunteered at a special Olympics which unlike the Paralympics is for athletes with mental disabilities. My friend and I were the only people from YIS or frankly under the age of 18 there, which was quite nerve-wracking. We helped in organizing the crowd and assisting the athletes in case they needed to go to the bathroom. Each of us was given pools to supervise and we made sure the players in our groups played their turns. 

This experience helped me in becoming more educated on how people on the spectrum are in real life rather than simply reading or watching documentaries about the disorder. It also made me want to hustle harder in the sports that I do as these athletes who had a “disadvantage” were working very hard. I was able to meet new people who I would not normally talk to which was interesting as well.

A misconception that people often have is that people with mental disabilities are antisocial and are not able to have friendships. However, this was proven incorrect when I volunteered at the event. The athletes from the same prefectures were supportive of each other and cheered each other on during the games. Even those from different prefectures talked amongst each other and were saying that they do not have the opportunity to meet with their friends other than these games, seeming delighted.

Expedition to Niigata 2018

This year, the concept for field studies changed along with its name to “expeditions”.  In these new expeditions, we explored nature, self-reliance, and resilience. In the Niigata expedition which I attended, we also talked about silence and how it is rare to have absolute silence in the city.

The first day, we traveled a few hours by bus to a rural part of Niigata up the mountains where there was not a lot of civilization around us. There, we met the English Adventure staff and the building where we would be staying at for 3/4 of the nights. After having a long-awaited lunch, the English adventure staff organized a few activities for us to get us started and introduced to the topics we would be exploring for the next couple of days. We tried without instructions tried to build an ice cave, mapped the route we would take on the day of the hike and took a hike into a part of the forest where we could experience silence.

The next couple of days were filled with exciting activities such as sleeping in a quinsy that we built for a whole day, hiking on the very top of a mountain, and lastly skiing. These activities all required a form of leadership whether in groups or in pairs. When hiking, we were forced to decide which direction we would travel when there was a split road based on our map reading skills. In the group, there was an instance where the group was split by two opinions and it took a leader to listen to each opinion then come up with a correct or fair solution. This experiences taught me that leadership can come not from expressing your own opinions but listening to the group.

On the day we created the quinsies, in the afternoon we ate dinner which we cooked on a stand which we made by ourselves out of ice. We were given ingredients, a pot, and a portable stove which we placed on the ice stand. While we waited for the quinsy to harden enough to sleep in, we ate the stew we made and looked at the stars, played games etc.

By experiencing these activities that were out of our comfort zones, I think I developed as a person and became more open-minded. Originally, sleeping in a quinsy was such a foreign thought and I assumed that it would be cold, miserable, and overall a negative experience. However, contrary to my initial ideas, the quinsy was comfortable to sleep in and I even enjoyed the process of making the quinsy as it was very rewarding to see it made. In the future, I think these memories will remind me of the positive that can happen out of a seemingly negative scenario.

Additionally, I think I was able to appreciate nature more. Being surrounded by nature was different from seeing things on a screen as we not only saw but smelt, heard and felt the things we were seeing. Not having access to a phone or any sort of internet connection made us connect with the people around us. Although I am not someone who is extremely addicted to my phone and enjoys being in the outdoors, being outisde with my friends was an even more exciting experience.




Expedition ’16

For this year’s expedition, half of the grade traveled to Phuket and the rest to Niigata. I chose to go to Niigata because I enjoy hiking and the wilderness.

We went hiking with one backpack for three days which was already a big challenge but we then slept in tents that we built our selfs,  out of the comfort of our usual bed. We also did team building exercises, hiked in the rain and made our own meals.

This was one of the most most fun field studies I had ever been to. We were given more freedom to make our own decisions which gave us more responsibilities but ended up being a good learning experience. The mountains we climbed were hard however the scenery of the journey made it worth it.

In this expedition, I grew as a learner by becoming self-reliant and a leader. I believe this trip has taught me to be more independent as I had to organize my belongings into one bag that we had to carry for up to 8 hours on a mountain. We had to make decisions that would affect us greatly as there was no one to help us if we had made the wrong decision and had brought the incorrect belongings. This gave us a sense of responsibility for our selfs that we probably had not experienced before.

In terms of leadership, everyone in the group had to become a leader at one point in the trip. Whether it was in forms of organising the materials for lunch to be carried by different people or when someone got hurt and volunteered to carry the injured person’s bag, it was an important aspect of the trip.

In conclusion, by going to this trip, I grew as a learner by experiencing more responsibilities and freedom. If I were to do this again, I bring a disposable camera so I could record the beautiful scenery that we witnessed during the journey.