I arrived back in Japan three days ago, and I am now telling the story of my journey to my family and my friends. First of all, thank you very much for giving such opportunity to me, and for supporting our program. As I think back on those two weeks, I am feeling that experiences I had there were full of stories I could never heard, places I could never visited, and things I could never finished if I didn’t participated in this program. To be honest, I was pretty much exhausted during weekdays of the program especially the first week, I thought there were too many places to visit, too many people to meet, and too many things to learn. As the program came toward the end, however, I realized myself growing and absorbing a lot of things through this program. After the final presentation, our last goal of the program, I had a great feeling of accomplishment; by the experience of overcoming something together with all of the members.
Since it was my first time staying in United States for such a long time, I saw many new things, and found out many interesting facts. Most of all, I was surprised by the fact that DC is very unique city, a city that is different from any other city. Firstly, I have learned that DC is a city which is designed to be the capital city of US, and residents there virtually have no right to vote except for the president election. I had never thought before to the situation of having a voting right when we get to the certain age, but knowing this fact gave me the opportunity to rethink about it. Secondly, I get to know many places where tourists probably will not see. I didn’t know that while DC holds the wealthiest part of population even including the White House, they also have poorest part of population living in other part of the city. I would never find out this fact if I wouldn’t visit there. Thirdly, I realized that DC is a city with full of diversity. Hearing many different languages spoken on streets, seeing Chinatown, Embassy Row, or Eastern Market, discussing about immigrants in US with group of students in my age who think about international affairs, and speaking with some friends of my host mom who came to US to get job and the Green card, I have learnt that DC is a city which holds people with various family backgrounds. From this discovery, I think I saw a very important part of the United States.
I also learned that there are many problems causing even now, due to this diversity. History of discrimination, act for freedom, and organization for understanding each other or bringing community together. What I have learned there taught me the importance of taking some kind of action if I wish to make a positive change in the community or environment around me. And the person in my age is never too early for making those acts. Those experiences and the fact told by my friends in the group that community service or volunteering work is part of their school work, acted as a very good stimulus to me; I am now feeling that I can’t be staying here, waiting for the environment to be changed, but I need to think about positive effects I may give to the community and move actively.
This program totally changed my attitude toward community, United States, and even my own country, Japan. Again, thank you very much for your support and I hope I can come back to United States in future.
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School