For my community engagement I have participated in the snow club in YIS. The snow club is a club where we plan ski trips and raise money for the NPO Chill Japan. In the club I have participated in buying tickets, volunteering at the Burton sale and going to the Chill Japan weekend in Iwate. The Chill Japan weekend was an event where volunteers came to teach kids who come from the Tohoku region, which was affected by the 3/11 earthquake in Japan. And this was a big event because these children have had a rough time, some of them have lost parents or been displaced, and have seen traumatizing things. They also don’t have many opportunities to do things that many children would do. The whole point of this trip was to give this to these children and to make sure that they have fun, to make sure that they feel like a part of this world, which all adds to their mental wellbeing. And by teaching them to snowboard and participating in activities, I believe me and the other volunteers have achieved this goal.
As I mentioned before I participated a lot in this trip, but I also think I learned a lot. As volunteers we had to stand up and participate, we had to be the ones to take action, and as a kid who has never really done that, it was a very new and different experience. This trip has really helped my understanding and appreciation to being a leader and a teacher. And I believe that my progress report shows this.
For the past seven years, I have gone to the same summer camp every year. The camp is for international school kids who speak Japanese, so they can be more part of the culture and learn some new things. It is located in Nagano Japan, in a village called Achimura. In this camp I have acquired many new skills and learned many new things over the past seven years. Because I’ve been in the camp for so long, over time I developed as a leader, or as a guide to other new campers. Some years it didn’t work out too well, but the last few years I felt confident as a leader and I feel I’ve really developed my skill to interact with new people. As someone who was raised in a city environment, it was a really nice change to go live in nature for a month, and is something I truly grew to love. I learned how to identify different plants and animals and how to avoid them, or learning what things I can interact with. And being a summer camp we also went hiking and camping all the time, so I’ve also developed those skills. It has been useful for things like the grade 9 expeditions, as we went on a three day hike in the mountains of Niigata, which has the same kind of plant and animal life, so I could identify things for other people, and also help out with skills involving camping.
To summarize this camp has had a big impact on my life. I have learned to lead, teach and be a good mentor. I have developed most of my social skills at this camp, which has helped me greatly when exposed to a new environment and in my daily life.
During the expedition we went on a three day hike, where we spent six hours each day with a group of 16 people, walking on routes in the mountains. Over the course of these three days I have gained a few things. The main thing I got out of this trip was, strengthened bonds between people. Because we spent three days hiking, there were many moments where people needed help to do something, or just general conversations to keep company. For example, every time we slipped or fell, there was always someone to support you, and even if no one fell, we would look out for each other on areas that seemed dangerous or hard to traverse. This changed me as I think of myself as an awkward person, someone hard to talk to. But it didn’t feel that way on the hike. In terms of nature, there wasn’t really anything new I learned, as bear bells urushi (Japanese poison ivy), and giant hornets were all things I have seen in the mountains before.
There were a few challenging parts in the hike, with muddy slippery terrain, and continuous ups and downs, and it did get very tiring towards the end of each day. I don’t think I challenged myself too much, and I found it hard to find challenges I could put myself up to, as I go hiking every year and spend a month in the mountains.
My role in the community was to be a positive spirit and be the reinforcer of the group. I have no idea wether I was actually doing my role correctly, but I feel like I did. Just having a positive fun attitude about everything, having some interesting conversations here and there, also encouraging people, and helping them go down challenging parts of the route. I hope I did achieve these roles, who knows.
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