Discovering your identity

By living within a foreign culture and by comparing different cultures and customs with your own, this will promote growth in the student’s individuality. Also, by discovering elements of your personality, you will build upon your identity that will be recognized by others in the world. The realization of your own self within the global world, is a crucial need to all people of this generation.
  • The thing that surprised me was friendliness of the locals. This may be something you hear often, but at any store, when I go in to buy something, they ask me “How are you?” When I visited a local school to experience their classes, many students talked to me. For this reason, even though I was only here for about a week, I made many friends, and also at the same time it reminded me of the entrance ceremony of junior high school.

    In Japan, you rarely talk to someone that sits next to you on the bus or in the elevator. You may be aware of this, but lately the problem with Japanese people communicating less is getting picked up by the media. In turn in Hawaii, or more so in America, it seemed to me that many people would be open to conversations and people wouldn’t be as shy. Each and every one of them was so nice and warming, so I felt these strangers were like friends.

    In Hawaii, I felt tired. Everything about the place was different from Japan, and everything was so stimulating. Every event would influence me in some way. And it was tiring, but I had a lot of fun. When came across with something new, people will grow accordingly. For this science camp, everything was new to me. Everything was a learning experience, but it was learning that was just too fun. So, when time came to an end, I wanted to stay some more. It was probably the most fulfilling twelve days of my life.

    Motohira Owan, Tezukayama Junior High School (Nara Prefecture)

  • During the science camp, I felt a big difference between Japan and America, this is without saying whether it is good or bad that America strongly promotes liberal-upbringing and self-judgement. Of course, I have heard that America is this type of country numerous times, but I didn’t expect to feel it this strongly (for example, the time of waking up and sleeping, the time of using the shower and the overall lifestyle). Especially, everyone one was responsible for when their turn is. I barely saw my host family say anything to their kids, except for when the two kids were fighting. Of course, they will say things that need to be said. However, I felt that it was unlike Japan where you would tell them the answer from the beginning. But they would say things in a way that they would make their kids think. This may be because I live in Japan, but I felt that the American way of liberal-upbringing would be better for the kids. In the end, it comes down to people who work hard, work their way up, while people who don’t, get left in the dust. In Japan, there are multiple individuals who think that everyone needs to work their way up, but in America, everyone doesn’t have to be winners, but they think that if you don’t want to be the underdog, you need to fulfil the required work to achieve that status. This way, you are forced to think about yourself, so I believe it becomes more difficult for people in Japan, to be stuck in a place where you don’t know what you want to do. I also have another thing I have learned through homestay. If I translate the quote given to me, “You might be smart like a mongoose, but you are also too sensitive to danger like a mongoose.” To put this into context, it meant that I would be able to think out things, but I would be thinking too hard, and I wouldn’t be able to come out of my nest. I really felt that this was true, and I could recall many things that fits this situation.

     Aoi Yamanaka, Tezukayama Junior High School (Nara Prefecture)

  • From the stories I heard in Hawaii, I felt that the Nikkei have a different pride from Japanese in Japan. I felt sad to learn that they are discriminated against because of the color of their skin, though their hearts are American just like those on the U.S. mainland. I also felt that those who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team probably do not wish the Japanese today to be proud of them or to be praised by them. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team soldiers enlisted to show that “I am an American serving the United States of America.” I thought we shouldn’t praise them by saying “the Japanese perseverance is amazing.” Nevertheless, I would like to thank them for fighting discrimination toward “yellow” people.

    There are so many legends in Hawaii and they were fascinating to me. Having many stories survive all these generations without being written is amazing, and people’s belief towards Madame Pele is still strong. I also admire people in Hawaii for having a big heart and being able to forgive Madame Pele for the volcanic eruption.

    Hitoko Okanoya, Nagaoka High School  2nd year

  • The term “Okage Sama De” when put into English meant “I am what I am because of you.” I was deeply impressed by this phrase. In order for me to participate in this program, I was helped by my friends, family, teachers, and many others who made this trip possible. The reason why I am who I am right now, is definitely because “I am who I am because of you.” From now on, I felt that I wanted to be thankful to many more people. I also thought I would keep this phrase always at the bottom of my heart.

    Tsuzumi Abe, Ekisen Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)

  • I learned the history of Japanese-Americans at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. I learned that the Japanese values of disgrace, obligation, endurance, responsibility and loyalty were values that helped them pull through difficult times. The hardworking Japanese-Americans were acknowledged in Hawaii, and this was the reason why we were accepted here, and I felt proud to be Japanese. After staying there for a short while, I noticed that the culture was different. At the same time, I was able to truly discover that I was in fact Japanese. Through this study program, I learned that to connect with the world meant that I needed to acknowledge other ethnicities and to respect them.

    Rizu Yamasaki, Seibu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)

  • At Mililani Middle School, there was a Japanese club and when we played a game, one of the club members interpreted English to Japanese for me. The existence of the Japanese club made me happy because it was a great way for them to get to know Japan. I wanted more people to experience what Japan was like, so I would like more people to join the Japanese club. Also, students would pass me in the hallway and high-five me and some would say hello. These were all refreshing experiences that you can’t get in Japan. I was overwhelmed by their assertiveness and I would like to bring this trait back with me to Japan.

    Yuka Noda, Seibu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)

  • I found that it was important to accept the differences with many cultures and to accept one another. At the same time, I was able to look back at myself. I found a part of me that becomes uncomfortable when I can’t be the same as others. I tend to think of what others think before thinking about what I actually feel. However, through the study program, I learned to think that I can be who I am, and it’s okay for people to be different. I found that we talk to each other in order to learn about each other, because we are all different. I was able to learn this from the trip to Hawaii. We struggle to learn about things because we are different. This was what I learned.

    Nonoka Itabashi, Seibu Junior High School (Oita Prefecture) 3rd year (9th grade)

  • About the positive aspects of Japan. By leaving Japan, you are able to make comparisons of the countries from an objective perspective, where you notice how good the Japanese food is, and how beautiful nature is there. While becoming proud of the positives traits of Japan, you start to see that you value your Japanese identity. When viewing the world news from Japan, it feels that the events are irrelevant happening somewhere far, however when immersing yourself in a new cultural region, you start thinking about what you can do as a Japanese citizen. You start to feel your place as a Japanese citizen who stands within the world, and you start to find ways that Japan as a country could help people live in peace, and so you become more aware of your own country.

    To find one’s own identity. By interacting with many other ethnicities, you become aware of your own identity and become able to accept yourself for who you are. You are able to step past your thoughts of needing to be the same as everyone else, and you start to accept your personal traits. You then become proactive in learning and want to grow more as a human being.

    Kumi Kishida, Teacher and chaperone for the study program

  • By talking with many different individuals, I found that “facial expression,” “gesture,” “responding promptly” and to “finish the sentence” were the four important factors in communication. The pace of English here was way faster than I had expected, so it was really difficult to understand. In this situation, I found it was important to use the four factors and combine it with few words that I could get out of the conversation. To also add to the four factors, to not be shy was important as well. The students of Niu Valley Middle School taught us a hip-hop dance, which was the trend at the time. When they told me “Let’s try,” it was important to try without thinking about messing up. I couldn’t dance well at all, but the other students were getting it on, so I had a lot of fun dancing.

    Nao Nakayama, Sera West Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)

  • I will be writing about my second goal “communication skill improvement.” I have found out through this study program that even if I use the little words that I know; the people would actually understand what I wanted to say. Also, I found that gestures help a lot. During the first day of my homestay after my host families had picked me up, I wasn’t able to respond to the questions they asked me. However, from the second day forward, I was able to hold a conversation while also taking into account their thoughts and feelings. I will practice my English more so that I can clearly understand what someone is trying to say to me.

    Kakeru Maeomichi, Sera West Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)

  • In conclusion, for the two goals that I have set, I found it was important to proactively talk to people and to not be afraid to make mistakes. I felt that by making mistakes, you remember things more permanently. I’m not sure if I was able to learn the art of cooperation, but by being with the students of Niu Valley, I am able to think out my next step by looking at the expressions and words of the person I am talking to.

    Miho Fujikawa, Sera Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year

  • I learned that things get really complicated when you can’t understand what is being said, so you don’t know what is happening, or what is going to happen next. So, I thought that I need to improve on my comprehension skills. During the program, I tried my best to get my message across.

    The word I used the most throughout the program was “Thank you!” When paying at a register or when the food is served to you at a restaurant, I don’t really say the word in Japan, however, I found that the people of Hawaii use “Thank you!” or words of appreciation in these situations. So, I decided to say, “Thank you!” as well, and I found that the more I used this word, the better I felt. So, from now on, I will use “Arigatou” in Japan more often.

    Mayuki Uekawa, Sera Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)

  • I would like to become better at English and communication skills. The pace of the English here was faster than I had expected it to be, so I couldn’t understand much of it. For this reason, I would like to get better at understanding more of what’s being said. I have improved this skill a little through the program, but I still feel the need to improve it further. If I were to increase my communication skills, even if my English wasn’t perfect, I probably would be able to get by using gestures to describe my thoughts. Therefore, I would really like to get better at communicating.

    Fumika Ishigatsubo, Sera Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)

  • During recess when we were playing basketball, I made a shot and students around me applauded and said, “Nice Shot.” This made me really happy, and it wasn’t just when I made a shot, it was when anyone would make a shot.

    At this moment, the barriers between nationality and language were not present. I was deeply impressed at the stance of the students who were willing to create a warm environment where each and every one of them would praise each other. I think this was something that has been brought up from the culture of Hawaii, and this was what was wonderful about this place.

    After experiencing these events, I decided to become someone who wouldn’t block someone out and become someone who could make a warm relationship with other people like they did.

    Hideaki Kato, Sera Junior High School (Hiroshima Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)

  • Besides the set goals for the study program, I found three things that were important. The first one is to smile and say hi and to talk to someone even if it’s the first time you meet. At Niu Valley Middle School, the student that took care of me, came up to me the first time we met and smiled and said hello. I was nervous at the time, so her smile and her words made me calm and helped me out a lot. Also, not only that student, but the other students I met and gave me the tour of the school, came up and said hello. So, from this experience, I learned that the students of Hawaii will come up and talk to anyone wholeheartedly. I have times when I can’t actively hold a conversation or even say my hellos. After meeting the students from Hawaii, I have found that this was a trait that I lacked. So, from now on, I will try my best to smile and say hello like them, and to become a person that can positively influence someone.

    Soyo Miyamoto, Kouzan Junior High School (Aichi Prefecture) 2nd year (8th grade)

  • Learning about the history of Hawaii, the history of the Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, and communicating with locals allowed me to have a greater experience than what I would have just sightseeing. Among those, learning about the Japanese immigrants in Hawaii was the most influential to me. I thought about “how did they feel on this journey to get here,” “how did they establish their identity” and realized it’s the same thoughts that refugees must have had when they left from their country. I want to become a nurse who can treat my patients with understanding of their personal and cultural background, and with these values I learned: “to understand one another,” and “to find similarities with others.”

    Ayane Hisaeda, Japanese Red Cross Kyushu International College  2nd year

  • I’d like to write about what I learned about the local people’s and students’ values. We had an opportunity to attend classes with students from the University of Hawaii, and that’s when I saw a big difference from a classroom in Japan. All the students were very engaged in the lecture and enthusiastic in answering questions given by the lecturer. Japanese students tend to be rather passive, so this was a very different experience. I’ve heard about this difference before but seeing this was a great experience for me.

    Taishi Tomozoe, Kyushu University School of Law  2nd year

  • I have some homestay experience in Japan, but this was my first experience abroad. I had three different families and was assigned alone for two of them. I had the impression that there was a stronger influence of Japanese culture than in Japan, such as having Japanese dolls in their homes. Since I was assigned without a buddy for most of the time, I spent a lot of time with my host family. I had some difficulty with communication, however, I was able to learn about Hawaiian culture, my English level, and communication skills.

    Jo Gondo, Kurume University Faculty of Commerce 2nd year