On Friday of the first week, we made our first visit to School Without Walls, a public high school in the District of Columbia, which will be our base for the following week. After we did a little introduction of the day and were told some additional information of the upcoming events, our panel guests arrived for the briefing on US-Japan relations. Our first guest speaker, Grace Ruch, gave us a brief session on the historical events that happened between United States and Japan. Shanti Shoji, the Vice President of a non-profit organization called Kizuna Across Cultures [KAC], told us about their effort to connect the youths of the 2 countries using the social networking service. Then, Brandon Artis shared his experience as an exchange student in Japan. Lastly, Yuuki Shinomiya and Kunihiro Shimoji spoke about Japan America Student Conference [JASC] and some other opportunities we have to stay connected with Americans from the Japanese perspective. In the afternoon, we went to the Latin American Youth Center [LAYC]. There, we had the chance to listen to teenagers trying to deal with problems that the kids of our own age group are suffering from; the topics were “Teen Domestic Violence,” “Teen Pregnancy,” and “Bullying.” Also, the teenagers showed us a Dominican dance and we were also able to do a little bit of dancing.
I was grateful that I had the chance to talk with some of my “sempais” of becoming global citizens, which is a Japanese term for elders who have been through the same situation or process as you. From the conversation I had with Mr. Shimoji, I learned that economics was an essential knowledge when trying to get into an international organization, which was something I am interested in in the future. And this is just an example of how much you can learn and absorb from a “sempai.” From this I recognized the importance of networking; therefore, I’ll try to keep in touch with all of the interesting people that I meet on this program, especially because the people who we are getting the chance to see are the kind of people I would have never had the chance to see if I hadn’t been a part of such a magnificent program. Also, the visit to LAYC made me realize how dependent I had been. I thought I cared about the society and the problems that many people of our age were dealing with, but I hadn’t made any actions to try and solve them, whereas the kids in LAYC were actually turning their thoughts to actions. I was greatly inspired by them especially because they were teenagers just like me but really believed they could make a change in the world, which I had unquestionably denied my whole life. So, before doing any service projects, I will start trying to make the world a better place by believing in myself that I can really make a difference.
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School