By Chi Onyeka
You would think in my experience, after a trip to Japan, I’d be less anxious meeting my Japanese peers. That was not the case at all. I was still the same anxious bubble that was popped after a while.
The class started off normal with a lesson from the lovely Eshita-sensei, then Sally got a call. I could see the students making their way to the science classroom we would later meet in and then came the anxiety. Luckily we had a days-of-the-month song which relieved the anxiety a little when we sang its catchy tune twice. Going into the science room, aw man. Lots of butterflies.
We got the opportunity to sit in the front and enjoy the presentations from the Japanese high school students from Okinawa. We learned about their high school (which made me jealous in comparison to my school), the Okinawa culture, pop culture and more. We had discussions in both Japanese and English. Both conversations were steady going, until we had to ask for assurance from our peers. I believe my anxiety was lifted when we played concentration with numerous topics to choose from. Once I realized through this game that no one is subject to perfection, it was a lot easier for me to communicate. Sadly, this game came after the conversations, which would have been less awkward had it not been for my anxiety.
Teaching the Cha Cha Slide was definitely fun for me. I have a bit of an extroverted side of me that loves to dance, so when we were dancing with the Japanese students, I was finally the normal Chi that talks too much with anyone. So seeing all 33 of the students (Japanese and American) dance to one of my favorite dances at parties enabled me to finally express myself.
Meeting with the Japanese students at Z-Burger was a less formal exchange to me. I was able to converse with some more students over a bunch of fries and a massive hamburger. We were more able to talk about our personal lives, not anything deep, but things like how many pets would they get or do they have. I like the Z-Burger exchange a lot because now since my brain thought “Ha! What’s an anxiety?” it was a lot easier for me to socialize, not only on the way to Z-Burger but at Z-Burger as well.
This Kakehashi exchange was another memory I will store forever in my memories of Japanese Plus, because it enhanced my global engagement not only with people from the other side of the world, but these people were my peers so it was a lot easier to converse with them.