Noah’s Summer Reflection

My summer experience in this program has changed how I look at the world. It has given me a different perspective on DC, and a greater appreciation for the new friendships and the experiences we have shared together.

My favorite activity was the visit by the Pulitzer Center. The activity we did with them caused me to notice things about DC that I have never noticed before. One thing includes how much history has been preserved in DC and how every person has a story. We were assigned the task of taking 2 photos of DC, 1 of something familiar and another of something that we never noticed before. I was surprised by how little information I knew about the place I called home. In my head, I thought that I knew everything that there was to know. I was completely wrong! I learned that DC was a center of spreading ideas and a catalyst for change.

Another experience that will always stick with me was our brief time with G. He was able to connect us all with words. We had to form a circle, each person said they were powerful, but there was a catch. Each one of us had to say it louder than the person before us until someone was shouting it. I was nervous, but standing there together all laughing and getting to know each other caused me to feel powerful. This wasn’t because I just said it but by hearing it get louder one person at a time. I learned that together a group of strangers can become friends and our voices are stronger together than separate.

Another activity was when we played an icebreaker that showed all the things we had in common. This taught me that the words that come out of my mouth have to be honest, because if your words are powerful, then they have the ability to contain emotions and feelings that connect people. I want to connect nations and to do so by seeing that underneath all the differences are in culture. I had this idea, that in order to change the world that you have to be the best person at what you do. I have come to understand that you just must try your hardest.

When I think about going to Japan I get a little fidgety from the anticipation. Learning Japanese culture, personally, is something that this program has made aware to me. During our time in Chinatown with the Japanese students we had an awesome time even though it was raining. I remember Takuya’s infatuation with soul food and Ken’s astonishment when he found out that walking on a red light was common in DC. Their moments captured what it means to step out of normal life and experience a side to life that you do not understand.

When facing something new the first time it is challenging. This is a humongous challenge, but conquering of my fear of flying is something that I am looking forward to. Shun, my host brother, has told me how much he liked learning about hip-hop culture and we talked about how Naruto is coming to an end. We are still getting to know one another better and we will continue to. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to meet all 12 TOMODACHI and I am looking forward to staying connected.

In conclusion, my experience with everyone I met and everything I have done with them, was the greatest experience of my life time. It allowed me to see how different people are but also how they are the same, even if they are from a different country. This experience has taught me so much about myself, it allowed me come out of my comfort zone and embrace diversity. I can truly say that this experience has helped me grow as a person, student, and friend.

Noah Dyson
School Without Walls

The End . . .

On Friday, August 1st the last day of the program was dedicated to one thing and one thing only: the final preparations for our final presentation. We all arrived at American Councils and edited some slides in our PowerPoint. We were then visited by Dan Davidson, President of American Councils and had an interesting meeting with him. He discussed what he did for a living and asked question that caused us to evaluate ourselves. After the meeting, we rehearsed our PowerPoint and then settled down to wait for our parents, faculty, and sponsors. Then, we shared our final presentation with our invited guests and it flowed smoothly and everyone enjoyed themselves. After the presentation we had lunch, which included Chipotle catering, and we were able to make our own burritos, tacos, and bowls. We then went to Chinatown to go to Lucky Strike to bowl. There was a “friendly” competition started between the boys against the girls. We had a great time and bonded closer together, but we had to say our farewells to each other.

During our meeting with the American Councils president, Dan Davidson, he asked us questions about our time in this program and what we got out of it. These questions did not just highlight my experience, but caused me to look deeper into myself to find an answer. One example of a question asked is: “From the things you have learned and seen from this program, how has it changed you personally or your point of view of your home?” This question was so inspirational because to be honest some of us did not notice we had changed, but through meditating on this question things started to rise up from the depths of our conscious. We all then realized that we have changed and that change is a good thing. By discovering this he then asked, “When you go back home or continue your daily life, how can you change or better your community?” This question left the biggest imprint on me because throughout the entire 2 weeks we have been meeting with people who are making it their mission to better or change their community or people who are building up to that. I have been inspired, but more importantly I have been given hope that I, Noah Dyson, can help make a better world for the future generations. Hope is essential because it is the essence of life, the driving force that keeps the world spinning.

Noah Dyson
School Without Walls

What we want to experience for ourselves in Japan!

Noah

Something I learned about Japan is the custom of greeting someone and asking where is the bathroom. When you greet someone you have to introduce yourself by giving your name, age, and ask where is the bathroom. I have been practicing really hard to be able to greet someone in Japanese and cannot wait to try it.

Malaika

Something shared with me by the Japanese students that I can’t wait to see for myself is the crowded trains, because they say that even when our trains are crowded, it doesn’t compare. I also found it interesting that on escalators they walk on the right and stand on the left, which is completely opposite of us.

Sierra

Something I learned from the Japanese students that I can’t wait to see are the schools. This is because they describe the things that happen at their school and they seem so different from what happens at ours. I really want to see the similarities and differences between our schools.

Luke

Japanese teenagers don’t hug! Seriously, unless they’re dating or siblings then hugging is not an acceptable greeting!!

Gabrielle

During the past two weeks the American group has learned a lot about Japanese culture that has made the group even more excited to travel there in the fall. One of the things that has particularly fascinated me is the Japanese bullet train. The train has particularly fascinated me because of how fast it goes and how different it is from DC metro.

Micah

I’d really like to see the traffic in Japan. The Japanese students never really cross the street unless the light is on green, so I want to see what makes traffic so quick and dangerous in Japan.

Success is the Product of Hard Work

On Monday the 28th of the second week, we met at American Councils to debrief the last couple of days in the program. During the debrief we came up with big ideas for the Panel: Stories of US-Japan. We also came up with a big idea for our tour and program at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and our visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. After, the debrief we walked to 1776 and had a tour of the business innovation hub. The tour of 1776 included seeing and learning how it was founded and the principles in which it was founded on. We had the chance to talk to a group of entrepreneurs whose company was almost ready to launch. Then, we walked to the Wilson Building and ate lunch while being briefed on local business innovation. Shortly after, we had a tour of the Wilson Building by staff of the DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. In the afternoon, we visited DC Central Kitchen and learned how it started, how it has grown, and how they obtain the funds to use food as a tool to strengthen a community. Afterwards, we visited the National Building Museum’s exhibit, “Designing for Disaster” to learn the innovative ideas that are being used to build buildings that are prepared for a natural disaster. Lastly, we visited to the Memorial to Japanese American Patriotism in World War II and experienced it in a different perspective through the detailed instruction given to us by Terry Shima, a Japanese American WW2 veteran.

I am so jovial that I had the chance to tour the business innovation hub called 1776, which opened my eyes to a way you can become successful if you are willing to work hard. One of those ways is that when you start your own business you do not always have the knowledge, skill sets, and resources for your business to be successful in the long run. The main thing that 1776 focuses on are those three things. And having the knowledge that there is a company like 1776 eases the mind of all inventors or anyone who has an idea to make the world a better place. From this experience I have learned that as a single person you do not know everything and there is going to come a time when you need help. And that it is OK because at the end of the day 4 hands are better than 2. Also, the briefing on local business innovations informed me about a part of my local government that I had no clue about. I learned that the staff of the DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development have come up with a very strategic and well-planned strategy to make the District of Columbia the top North American destination for foreign investors, business, and tourists. I know reading the previous statement you are asking yourself how a city only 10 miles can be this. It is a goal, which is something higher than yourself. Through being informed about this goal I have learned that the way to become successful is to first have a goal, secondly to have a plan to reach this goal, and thirdly to act on the plan. And if you are working on something that you believe in wholeheartedly, then never give up.

Noah Dyson
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School

Noah – The 6th Member

As the 6th member in the 2014 DC TOMODACHI Group I am extremely jovial, astounded, and high-strung about all that has happened so far because of the program. When I received a call from my Humanities teacher Mrs. Parascandolo about the chance to participate in this program, I could not suppress my joy. I honestly was running around my house not able to be still. I called my brother and told him what I am having the opportunity to do. He told me how proud he was and to keep a cool head. I heeded to the advice he gave me. When I was finally able to wrap my head around what was taking place I fully submerged myself into what I needed to do to become a part of this program. This is when the surprises started to occur. Since a previous member dropped out of the group, the process of filling his space was rather rushed. I had to find a way to balance my schedule to participate in this program and this was the most challenging thing. I was surprise by how lenient my SYEP boss was because this was her first time being a part of SYEP. She allowed me to still get paid which lifted a heavy burden off my shoulder. Another surprise is when I was able to work with my lacrosse coach to still attend a college lacrosse camp even though it is one of the days during the program. The last surprise is when I found out that I got accepted into the program. My mother and I pretty much called our entire family to tell them the amazing news. It was a joyful and grateful day.

But, don’t you know when something positively life changing happens and there is a  soft voice of fear or doubt whispering in the back of your head? Well, that is what happened to me when I got the chance to be by myself. I was being Noah, thinking too much about things that were not in my control. This caused me to worry about things such as will my host brother like me, will I fit in with this group, and will I be able to truly help the relations between the US and Japan? Around this time I was thinking about these things as I called my teacher and she told me one simple thing to do: “Be yourself and do your very best!” Through this statement and my experience so far, I have learned that to dwell on the things that are not in your control is mere folly, that the only thing you truly have control over is yourself so be the very best you can be.

Noah Dyson
School Without Walls