Clark’s KAKEHASHI Reflection

By Clark Gray (Japan in DC)

The lecture at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was particularly meaningful to me. I got a lot of insight on how Japan handles important matters such as diplomacy and national security. We also talked about issues regarding Japan’s shrinking population and China’s loophole abuse of the UN Law of the Seas, which I learned about in much detail in my AP Human Geography class last year. This showed me how important the concepts learned in school are more useful than making one seem smarter. This shows me the understanding I have gained from human geopolitics can help me make a difference on the global scale possibly working in diplomatic relations and other international efforts.

The onsen was a completely new and interesting experience. I heard that an onsen was a Japanese spa. I did not know that it was a naked spa. I thought it would be really weird and I was a bit worried, but it was not awkward or weird. I spent most of my time in hot pools relaxing and rejuvenating, especially when my friend Jeffrey encouraged me to go into a pool saying, “that’s where the water was hottest.” I was shocked to find that it was a shock therapy pool. It felt almost like paralysis but my body felt like new afterward. This experience taught me again how to appreciate surprises and to be more open.

The homestay was amazing. My mom and dad were so nice, they treated us like family. They fed us like grandparents. We watched various tv programs like the Olympics and that reminded me of family movie night with my family. At home, my duty is to wash dishes so I tried to help my host mom which she was very much surprised by and appreciative of.  The second day was really when it hit me that I was in Japan waking up to people talking in an unfamiliar language. It felt cool and inspires me to learn Japanese.

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