Y.Y.’s Reflection on the DC Program

This program taught me valuable life lessons that I couldn’t have learnt otherwise. I enjoyed being able to meet a bunch of people and hear their life stories. From hearing people’s stories, I learned an important lesson. The lesson that I learned was that we can fight stereotypes.

Since most people in Japan are Japanese, stereotypes are never discussed in schools because it is not a big issue. When we had a workshop with people from Operation Understanding DC, I became conscious of all the stereotypes that I subconsciously had. I was surprised when I was able to write up a whole list of stereotypes for a certain group of people. I realized through the activity that stereotypes exist in everyone, even if they don’t realize it. The activity that we did served as an eye opener for me and made me conscious of all of the stereotypes that I had. After the activity we learned ways that we can combat stereotypes. There were four action plans that were introduced to us. First, examine our beliefs and where it comes from. This is something that can be done individually. Getting to the roots of our stereotypes so that we can know why we think a certain way so that we can find a way to get rid of that stereotype. Second, we can get rid of stereotypes through conscious thinking. Since stereotypes are usually subconscious, by always being conscious of it we can get rid of it. Third, we can change our beliefs. We can change our thoughts on people, so we can change our stereotypes. Fourth, we can increase our options and how we interact with people. By interacting with people we can change our stereotypes and our stereotypes don’t have to make us act in a certain way. I thought that these four plans are a great way to get rid of stereotypes. Now I am more conscious about the stereotypes I have towards people, and I want to put these plans to action to get rid of my stereotypes.

This lesson is something that will stick with me forever. It is such an important lesson that schools fail to teach their students. I will spread the word to make the world a better place.

Y.Y.
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School

Favorite American food so far!

S.U.

My favorite food I ate during the stay in Washington, DC was crab cakes. I ate it at Alexandria beside the river and I was looking forward to eat it ever since I came here because my host family was recommending me it day after day. We sometimes eat crab in Japan but we don’t often, so it was good filling my mouth with crab.

Y.Y.

The highlight of my dinner was the delicious pizza with onion and mushroom. I still remember the crisp crust and the melted cheese filling my mouth.

S.S.

My favorite food I had over the stay here was a chili dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl, a combination of chili and hot dog that we never get to see in Japan.

K.Y.

My favorite food has been Philadelphia Cheesesteak so far. Compared to other kinds of sandwiches, they have higher but better taste. I would love to bring them to Japan for my friends if it were possible.

T.M.

I liked the African American soul food. I especially liked the BBQ ribs because it was big and had a lot of sauce on it. I also liked it because it was strongly flavoured.

M.I.

On my first day of this stay, I got to eat Azerbaijani food which my host mom made for me. My host mom, she experienced Peace Corps at Azerbaijan, so she made exactly how her host family in Azerbaijan taught her how to cook. Lentil soup, soup made out of green vegetable, and some Azerbaijani tea. These were a completely new eating experiences for me.

“The New Generation”

The first day of our second week was informative and eye opening. First we went to 1776. The interns gave us a tour of the place. 1776 was founded by Evan Burfield and Donna Harris. It has 215 members who use the hub. 1776 was on two separate floors. One floor had conference rooms, a kitchen, and tables that members could freely use. The other floor was quiet and it was simply for working in silence. We met workers from a company called vibeffect. The company evaluates students’ personalities and finds a college that is the best for that individual.

After that, we walked over to the Wilson Building to learn about local business innovation from John K. McKiel. He taught us about his job and we were able to ask questions to further understand how international business works. We were given a tour of the building afterwards. We went to visit the DC Central Kitchen. DC Central Kitchen makes 5000 meals a day and sends the food to 80 partners who provide it to people who need the food. We then visited the National Building Museum’s “Designing for Disaster” exhibit. We learned about how buildings are made to endure natural disasters. Finally, we visited the Memorial to Japanese American Patriotism in World War II. We looked at the memorial in ways Terry Shima recommended to do.

Have you ever thought about how much perfectly good food goes to waste? 40% of food on farms goes to waste. For example, if a farmer weighed an egg and it did not fit in a set size such as large or extra large, they would just drop the eggs on the cold hard ground. This fact that just because the weight doesn’t fit in a size category that it is just garbage surprised me. What makes the DC Central Kitchen special is the fact that they buy food from supermarkets, restaurants, and farms that would have gone to waste. The DC Central Kitchen is crucial because it saves the partner agencies time that it would take to cook the food. Also, the DC Central Kitchen does meal distribution and job training. They have a job training program where they provide basic training of cooking, they train them to search for jobs, and they help develop intangible skills. Their aim is not to just provide food for people in need, but to get them off the streets.

Y.Y.
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School

Y.Y. – First Day, July 21

On the first day of the program, we spent the day at American Councils. We had a orientation program where we learned about the TOMODACHI Program. Benjamin Gaylord, the senior project manager, spoke to us about what the term culture means and what stereotype means. Then, we took a walk to the White House and took group photos there. We came back to American Councils, and there was a workshop by slam poet George “G” Yamazawa Jr. (referred to as “G”). We started the workshop with an icebreaker. We stood in a circle and said “I am powerful”, but you had to say it louder than the person before you said it. The next game was called ‘toes eyes’. We stood in a circle, and when “G” said “toes,” we would look at someone’s toes, and next he would say “eyes,” so you would look up at that person’s eyes. If your eyes meet, you lose and step out of the circle. We heard “G”‘s poem about his grandmother. Next he had us write a few poems of our own. After “G” left, we did a drawing activity. We got in pairs, and one person was the director and the other was the artist. The director was given a drawing, and they had to explain the drawing verbally to the artist. The artist would draw what the director was explaining. After that, there was an explanation of the final presentation and blogging.

I thought that the orientation program in the beginning was very interesting and it made me think about what the word culture meant to me. Benjamin Gaylord’s explanation of culture was very easy to understand. The thing that I remember most was his explanation that what we think we know about seeing other cultures is just the tip of the iceberg. I thought that this was a really good and accurate way to capture the level of understanding that can be achieved from looking at different cultures. Next, when “G” came, everyone could feel that his enthusiasm changed the room’s atmosphere. His poems were touching, and it almost made me cry. I learned from him, that words can be very powerful, and loving what you’re doing is very important. We could tell that he really loved poetry. When he read his poems, we would snap when we thought that a certain part in the poem was good. We all shared our poems, and it was interesting to see what metaphors and similes other students used to describe themselves. I felt that through poetry, we were able to learn things about other students that we wouldn’t have been able to learn otherwise. He was such an inspiration, and he was so full of energy like the sun. The workshop increased my knowledge on poetry, and I am now more interested in poetry.

Y.Y.
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School