Owen’s Reflection

By Owen Strasberg

My time this year with the Japanese Tamago program was definitely interesting, but also very enjoyable. I got to learn a lot about Japanese culture, history, and how to speak the language! Each lesson taught me more and more and was very engaging. There were some classes where we focused more on history, had a guest speaker, or even one time we made onigiri! They even provided opportunities to help the community with the Stop Asian Hate campaign. The class was great, but it was even better with the people in it. When I entered the program, I only knew one other student in it but as the time went on, I got to meet many different people who shared some of the same interests that I have. The teachers and senpai were very kind and helpful, making sure if we were struggling or had questions to help answer them so we could learn. At one point I had to take a short break to focus on my grades in school, but they welcomed me back to the class and made sure the information on things I missed was available so I could catch up. I went into this class not really sure what I was going to learn, except for some Japanese, but I can confidently say that I got so much more than that out of it. It even has made me consider career paths in Japan. I hope to continue with the classes and learn more Japanese, since I had such an amazing time with the program and people there.

Ronin’s Reflection

By Ronin Arnold-Lee

My experience with this Japanese class was much more than I expected. I thought it was just going to be an exploration of Japanese dialect and the characters of the language. I thought I wasn’t going to get to learn more about the culture. But I did. I got a very satisfying, hands-on, and fun experience in this class. Every class we were doing something new. We were always learning something of the culture, even looking at modern day examples of racism. We did many creative hands-on activities, and worked with other organizations, such as Onigiri Action, in which we made onigiri rice balls the old fashioned way. We made skits in separate groups that were entertaining and required us to use what we learned to the fullest extent. This “class”, to me, has been more than a class, and more of an experience. An experience that I would gladly do again, and learn more from it. 

Announcing the Japanese Tamago #Stop Asian Hate Project

Globalize DC’s SY2020-21 Japanese Tamago program came to a formal conclusion on Wednesday evening, June 2nd, with a fun and heartfelt Final Student Presentation. Our students – dedicated high school students from both DCPS and DC charter schools – shared with the virtually assembled family members and special guests their new Japanese language speaking skills, their increased appreciation for Japanese culture and society, and thoughts about their future Japan-related goals. They also took the opportunity to share publicly for the first time information about their Japanese Tamago #Stop Asian Hate Project, to which they have devoted much time, discussion, and personal reflection throughout this challenging school year. Studying Japanese at a time when anti-Asian rhetoric and violence was surging across the United States created an uncomfortable situation that compelled them to take personal responsibility and action. We couldn’t be prouder of the work our students have begun.

Please read their own words and then check out their work.

We are Japanese Tamago, a Japanese language, culture, and career exposure afterschool program for DC teens. We have decided to use our position as students and consumers of Asian culture to step up and take a stand against AAPI hate during the recent rise in hate crimes against this community. There is not a large Asian population in DC compared to other areas of the country, such as New York or the West Coast, which makes it especially important for allies to be active and vocal in DC.

As a first step we knew we needed to educate ourselves, so the preliminary stages of this project were dedicated to gathering information and resources. We researched both historical and modern hate crimes and looked at the history of the anti-Asian hate movement to see what other activists were doing. After discussing our options, we concluded that the most effective way for us to make our voices heard is to educate others. Many of the hate crimes against the AAPI community come from stereotypes, and if bullies understand the history of Asian Americans and know the reality of this community, we believe they will be less likely to act out in negative ways.

Because education is so essential, we started by reviewing the current DC social studies standards, which are currently being revised by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE), with guidance from the DC State Board of Education. We identified places where information about Asia or Asian Americans were explicitly mentioned, and where information about Asia or Asian Americans could easily be included. We have also come up with recommendations for new standards and curriculum, and for programs or events that the school system could implement to decrease AAPI hate by educating the younger generation.

Our next step is to organize educational programs and interviews throughout the summer – both to help us continue with our self-education and to educate others.

Anyone interested in supporting, getting involved, or learning more about our work can fill out this short Interest Form.

Akesh’s Reflection

By Akesh Mallia

My experience with the Tamago program started when I received a school newsletter and there was a program listed on there that talked about Japan. This caught my eye because I’m half Japanese so my whole family on my maternal side lives in Japan. In middle school, there was never any club or class that talked about Japan which is why I thought this would be a great unique opportunity and applied. And a great opportunity it was! What made the program for me was how Tamago brought greater connections to my roots in Japan. The obvious example of a connection to Japan is speaking Japanese more often.

Prior to joining Tamago, I could speak Japanese, but not very well. My Japanese studies back then consisted of saying “hi”, “what time is it?” and other simple phrases to my mom. This is why it was great that in breakout rooms during Tamago class, we practiced our Japanese through repetition and conversation. We would learn phrases that I wouldn’t say at home such as “I would like to get 3 bananas” or “nice to meet you” and as a result, I learned more phrases and vocab. This is important to me as my goal is to speak fluently to my family in Japan over the phone for example, and when I go to Japan, I want to be able to converse with others. And the Tamago program brought me closer to that goal.

The other connection that I found from Tamago to family back in Japan was when we learned about culture. We learned about topics such as the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, table manners, and prefectural dialects. This was valuable in that it helped remind me of parts of Japan that I may have lost or forgotten through living in the United States all my life. So overall, when I look back at my year in Japanese Tamago class, it was a club that kept me going through this challenging year. And for that I’m very grateful and appreciative of the speakers who came to class, teaching assistants, the donors, parents, and of course Eshita Sensei and Sally who made this program possible.

Key’Mari’s Reflection

By Key’Mari Thompson

Since about 5th or 6th grade, I have had a steadily growing interest in Japan, especially through its pop culture. Like many others, I love Japanese media, including anime, manga, and video games, and over time this interest was able to expand into other things, such as its fashion, scenery and folklore. I had developed so much of an interest in Japan that learning the language was the next logical step to take. When I heard about Japanese Tamago from my peers at school, I was immediately interested and decided to apply. The program overall was very fun, and I especially love that beyond the language, we were also able to learn about various aspects of Japan’s culture, such as information about various prefectures like Osaka, or foods like onigiri and okonomiyaki. I also loved hearing from our guest speakers about their experiences in Japan, which helped to further increase my desire to travel to the country. Despite having to deal with one of the most hectic school years of my life, I was still able to enjoy the program, as it ended up being a peaceful distraction from the stressful events happening around me. Overall, I think that starting to learn a new language can be very intimidating, but I feel as though Japanese Tamago was able to ease the process enough to the point where I feel more confident in continuing to study the language on my own once it ends. I believe that if you are as interested in Japan as me and my peers, this would be a great opportunity for you!

Dara’s Reflection

By Dara Lira

When my mom first called me over to her computer claiming there was a great opportunity for me, I began to wonder what she found. As it turned out, there was a program called Japanese Tamago – a course in which students could learn the Japanese language and culture. Recently, I became a consumer of popular Japanese media such as anime, manga, and Jpop. Out of curiosity, I decided to apply for the program to see what it was like, as I honestly didn’t know what to expect from it. However, throughout my year in Japanese Tamago, I can say with confidence that this course was worth it. I learned the Japanese language, culture, history, geography, and I had the opportunity to listen to amazing speakers from a variety of backgrounds. Personally, my favorite part was learning about the different prefectures such as Hiroshima or Okinawa. Although I have to say, Osaka was my favorite. Japanese Tamago has enriched my life by giving me a new perspective on things as minor as entering a guest’s house. Furthermore, I now understand all the hard work and dedication of those learning a new language, as I found it to be a difficult but rewarding process. I am so thankful I was a part of this remarkable program, and I hope others join in the future. 

Hallie’s Reflection

By Hallie Munsat

To start off, it’s amazing enough that I was able to do this program online, for free, at a time I was available. I am so so SO lucky for that. I definitely got more out of this program than I was expecting. I joined this program in the simple hope that I would be able to learn Japanese so I could better communicate with my friends in Japan. But it was so much more than that. It got me excited about continuing my study of Japanese language and culture. The program further affirmed my wish of going to Japan for a semester in college. I was able to dive deeper into Japanese culture, etiquette, and the history of Japan. I not only started to learn how to understand Japanese, but also how to properly interact and be within the culture which was incredibly helpful. I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to be in person and become closer with the people in a classroom, but I also know the teachers did an amazing job in bringing everything accessible to screen and supporting students throughout the program. It’s hard to learn a new language, but one of my favorite parts of the program was the guest speakers and tips that students gave to continue learning Japanese even outside the program. Now that I’ve gotten so much helpful information from this program, I’m more confident about continuing my Japanese study in any way I can. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I’m hoping to do something with it again.

Chamiya’s Reflection

By Chamiya Carnathan

At first, I got interested in learning Japanese because of anime but when I joined the Japanese Tamago program, I learned so many cultural aspects of Japan that I didn’t know of. I want to continue learning cultural aspects of Japan and the language in the future and I hope to do so with Globalize DC. The most difficult part of staying in the program was attending the meetings. At times, I had to miss a few meetings due to personal problems, but nonetheless, I was able to overcome those challenges. My favorite part of the program were the Sunday meetings when we learned Hiragana and Katakana. The Sunday meetings were my favorite part because I was excited to read and write in Japanese. The day that I learned how to write my name in Japanese was my favorite day that I spent in the Japanese program. At first, learning Japanese was a hobby for me but now, I might want to have a job that includes aspects of Japan in the future. Even if I don’t have a job that includes aspects of Japan, I would still want to continue learning the language. Overall, I am happy that I attended the Japanese Tamago program.

Penelope’s Reflection

By Penelope Morris

Before I applied to Japanese Tamago, I had been studying Japanese on my own for about a year, and in joining the program I hoped to find a community that was as interested in Japanese language and culture as I was. I definitely found this, and participating in the class has been a great experience. I’ve learned about Japanese culture and heard from guest speakers who talked about their experience in Japan, which has made me think about how continuing to study Japanese could open doors in my own future. I’ve also really enjoyed working on the Japanese Tamago anti-Asian hate project. It’s not something I expected to do when I joined the program, but I believe in standing up for things that mean something to you, and because I really care about the AAPI community- I have Asian family, I consume Asian media, and of course I have an interest in Japanese language and culture- it feels like standing up for the Asian community is the very least I can do after all that they’ve done, not only for me personally, but for our country and collective culture. Overall, Japanese Tamago has been a great way for me to start deepening my study of Japanese and to make connections during a year when we were all separated.