Jerusalen: Cultural Lessons

Hello, my name is Jerusalen Elizaldi. I’m a rising 12th grader at Bell Multicultural High School. I’m 16 years old and I’m really excited that I got accepted into the TOMADACHI program. I’m really nervous to meet everyone this Saturday. Towards the end of the school year I have been learning Japanese, and when all of us went to go meet Ms. Mya, in the cultural orientation, it genuinely surprised me. The orientation focused around some of the cultures in Japan, what not to do and learning some useful phrases. The next day we learned how to use chopsticks, and we ate some Japanese food with our chopsticks!! There was udon noodles, miso soup, onigiri and some pickled vegetables. All the food I tried was completely different to what I usually eat. I was kind of nervous to eat it, but it was actually oishii desu.

Japan keeps surprising me, making me even more excited to meet all the Japanese students, and the country. For example, in the cultural orientation, we learned about Uchi (うち) and Soto (そと). We learned that Uchi (family, relatives, friends, country/nation) is the inner group and Soto is the outer group (classmates, coworkers, foreigners), so the formality and honorability is somewhat different. Learning about this just piqued my interest, because Japan is completely different. Ms. Mya mentioned to us that the Japanese are most likely not to be outspoken, like us Americans, and respect shared spaces. This made me think about the metro and parks, and how some Americans just don’t care about the people around them. I can walk down the street and see that there is a littering problem. Ms. Mya talked to us about the differences in the littering problems in Japan than here. I’m excited to see firsthand how they manage this. I can’t wait to find out more from the Japanese students and my fellow DC students in how we can make a change.

Jerusalen Elizaldi
Bell Multicultural HS

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