J-Live in Retrospect

By Gabe Mogzec

J-Live was an event that I attended November 11th, 2018. J-Live is a speech competition for college students to showcase their proficiency in the language. For me, only studying Japanese for a little over a month, I was left with an extreme language gap between me and the contestants presenting. I was very surprised at how much I did pick up. I could pick out certain phrases and certain words, and though not able to understand completely, I was able to pick up what the subject of their speech was. J-Live also had many other ways of experiencing Japanese culture, all of them being captivating in their own way.

From when I’m writing this, it has been just under two months since J-Live has happened, and during that time, my progress in learning Japanese has advanced. I’m proficient in Katakana and I’ve learned many new phrases and words. I know for a fact that if I went to J-Live now, I would be able to pick up much more. As, I continue to learn and study Japanese, I’m curious in attending J-Live 2019.

Beyond The Wall

By Lucca Bey

Recently, through Japanese Plus, I got an amazing opportunity to see the opportunities that learning a different language can bring someone. We attended a community screening of the documentary, Beyond the Wall, at Roosevelt Senior High School. The film is about a group of kids learning Chinese who got to experience Chinese Culture and a language immersion environment firsthand.

In truth, I wasn’t terribly excited to sit in a theatre for an hour, watching a film after a school day and lessons, but it turned out to be one of the most eye-opening experiences that I’ve had in Japanese Plus. The film was around an hour long, and it was crazy inspiring in my eyes. I’d have to say, some of my favorite parts were that the four main kids inside of the documentary were so open to new experiences, really embodying the concept of a global thinker.

I, myself have been learning Chinese for around 9 years now, and so, understandably, this film struck a chord with me. I saw a lot of some of the things I wanted to go on to do in the kids in the film. They were all high school students, just like us, who sought out language learning activities, which again, made me think of our Japanese Plus class.

This also led me to dwell about the different pathways that learning Japanese will have on my career later on, and how it’ll open many doors in life for just about anything that I choose to pursue. A prime example is the addition of cultures you’re familiar with, people you get to meet, and language specific experiences that you can relate to. Language, as I’ve realized in this class, is intricately tied to culture. You can’t separate one from the other, which is why it’s so very important to learn and understand both.

While it can seem a bit overdramatic to say that the film we watched caused me to have some sort of life changing revelation, seeing other high schoolers my age using language to participate in a foreign culture was definitely key to some of the aforementioned introspective thinking. With the school year unfortunately coming to a close, I’m excited for what else this class has in store.