The first time I had done the routine, I was nervous. kiritsu, meaning to get up from your seat, kiotsuke is to get your attention, rei means to bow, and in a class setting you either say おはよう ございます meaning good morning at the start of the class, then ありがと ございます meaning thank you and chakuseki meaning to sit down. At the end of the class, the teacher finishes last minute information and then we say さようなら, meaning goodbye.
It was nice to perform a Japanese routine done in every class, it made me feel like I was actually a part of a usual Japanese class without being inside of Japan. I enjoyed the practice and look forward to doing it again in class as time goes on.
On March 5th, 2023, Penelope Morris, XiaoYi Luo, and I, alongside Ms Sally Schwartz, went to the DC Independent Film Forum (DCIFF) which featured No No Girl for its closing night. Directed by Paul Daisuke Goodman, the film was about a Japanese American family who buried a secret in their backyard garden eighty years ago, on the eve of war and incarceration. Three generations later, a clue was discovered which unearthed the trauma and truth of their historic past.
No No Girl is a story narrated by generations of Japanese Americans who are still suffering from their relatives’ internment during World War II. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans were evicted from their houses and were transferred to barracks in isolated camps distributed across the United States by executive order. Several families, including the fictional one shown in No No Girl, did not want to leave behind beloved belongings that were too large or otherwise impractical to transport, so they buried them. After the war, Japanese American families would return to their homes to find them ransacked, destroyed, and vandalized as they faced racism and hate from white Americans. Sometimes, their belongings were outright stolen and they would have to start again and move on. No No Girl explored three generations of Japanese Americans who discovered the existence of family heirlooms in a home that is no longer theirs. In this film, we explored identity and family; nationality and pride as we watch the characters ask themselves: if it’s yours, is it really stealing?
Before the movie started, we had the opportunity to speak with Mika Dyo, the actress who played the main character in the film. Mika Dyo told us that she related to the movie because as a Japanese American, the internment camps impacted her family generations after the war, whether it was directly or indirectly.
I asked her the question “Why is the film called No No Girl?” She responded by saying that the film was named after the No-No Boys, a group of boys who answered “no” to questions 27 and 28 on a loyalty questionnaire given to Japanese Americans during the war. Question number 27 asked if they were willing to serve on combat duty wherever ordered and asked everyone else if they would be willing to serve in other ways, such as serving in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Question number 28 asked “Will you swear to abide by the laws of the United States and take no action which would in any way interfere with the war effort of the United States?” The No-No Boys were castigated by both the Japanese Americans and the general public because they were seen as disloyal traitors to the United States. However, the group was embraced by younger activists in the 1970s who were looking for those who resisted mass incarceration.
The movie explored topics that I had never learned in my history classes. The history books taught me about the internment camps but I had never learned about the generations of Japanese Americans who were still being affected by the events during WWII. This movie showed the bigotry, the racism, the exploitation of Japanese American families, and the generational trauma that followed in the aftermathof World War II. This is the kind of information that our #Stop Asian Hate Project believes should be included in DC’s new social studies standards so that future DC students will gain a much deeper understanding of Asian American history.
Want to study more of your Japanese? Well, don’t you worry about it! In this program, our teachers and mini teachers (tutors) will take the time out of their day to help you. Don’t be shy to ask for help! Trust me, I was very shy to ask for help and shyness will leave you behind. I was capable to study more of my hiragana! Everyone has room to study and learn! If you want to get out of the house, come to the Japanese study session! It helps a whole ton, and the tutors are so nice and helpful! I’ll love to even thank Satsuki-san and another tutor, Hiroki-san, in this mini blog!
I love this program and I get to learn more about Japanese culture and language. A little fun fact – Japan and China were close to each other. In the number section, it wasn’t always いち、に、さん。 (ichi, ni, san) They were ひとつ、ふた、三つ、よっす。(hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu, yottsu) There’s always room to learn anything! I suggest coming and joining Japanese Plus!
This poem is based on my experience at the JCAW New Year’s Festival I attended on January 29 in downtown DC. When making the origami, I was able to create relationships. Also, when creating these relationships, we were able to all laugh and joke about how we couldn’t for the life of us create the origamis, well not without help at least. My friends Soyeon and Seunga decided to look for an “easier” way to create a heart origami. We laughed about how we felt embarrassed to have to look up an “easier” version.
This is how my experience went but the poem talks about what origami can bring into your life and what it is. When making origami, you can connect with someone and who knows, you might make new friends or create a better relationship with those you’re already friends with. This poem was how I wanted to briefly explain but describe my experience when making Origami with these lovely people who I still keep in contact with til this day.
A beautiful art. A control of technique. A test of patience. An art of focus. A test of trusting the process, yourself, and your capabilities A way to connect with others through the complex forms of this beautiful art.
With the help of Globalize DC, I had the opportunity to experience Japanese culture in January in downtown Washington by attending a New Year’s festival, sponsored by the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, DC (JCAW). I had a wonderful day with my friends and had the opportunity to converse with people who aren’t originally from Washington, DC. The retail area was my favorite part of the whole visit.
I had the opportunity to see numerous Japanese toys, refreshments, and play mini games for rewards. I enjoyed two games available at the venue – fishing and hitting the targets! In the end, even if you didn’t hit any goals, the games still provided you candy since they give you the possibility to win sweets and adorable small toys that you can play with or give to your family. The snacks I could buy and consume from the kiosk were incredible; they had so many unique flavors and textures that weren’t present in the foods I often eat in Washington, DC.
Sadly, I was unable to afford a sushi making kit I wanted to get after seeing it. However, this genuinely kind worker offered to buy it for me, which came as a huge shock to me because not many people treat me with such kindness. This opened my eyes. demonstrating how even initiating small talk can result in amazing outcomes. I only talked with the lady for a few moments and she had offered to pay for something I couldn’t afford. It really shows how those who partake in a different culture than you can be genuinely kind and giving when you first meet them.
The event was amazing, and this program has given me many opportunities to do amazing things. I’d love to attend another festival like this one and play games, eat, and converse with people from Japan, and generally just enjoy myself with my friends once more.
Globalize DC is currently seeing a dynamic, creative, and committed part-time Japanese language teacher for our Japanese Plus program next school year. This will be to teach year 2 of a two-year Japanese language sequence. We have a highly motivated group of teens from eight different DC public high schools who are currently in their first year of Japanese with us, and they will need a new teacher for their second year of the program.
Japanese Plus is our innovative free afterschool Japanese language, culture, and career exposure program for DC public high school students citywide. Review this page, the student blog, and the full www.japaneseplus.org website for more information about our Japanese Plus program.
We are now seeking a dynamic new part-time Japanese teacher to co-lead this program. Interested? Download the job announcement here:
We will fill the position as soon as we find the right candidate. Please share this announcement with anyone you think might have an interest.
Consider making a real difference in the lives of our DC students. Globalize DC’s programs are among the few opportunities available to them – at no cost – to pursue their avid interest in Japanese language and culture.
In March 2020 we were excitedly working to get ready for that summer’s JAPAN IN DC program. But then COVID struck and all in-person programming was cancelled – everywhere. What an incredible disappointment! If you know JAPAN IN DC, you know that it was created to be an in-person, experiential program for DC high school students. It wouldn’t be the same online. So we’ve waited out the pandemic, and with fingers still crossed, we finally are looking forward to the relaunch of JAPAN IN DC this summer 2023.
With generous support from the United States-Japan Foundation, we have funding in place. Now we’re looking for super interested DC public high school students and two Program Leaders to make this all happen.
About the JAPAN IN DC Program: Over six weeks (June 26-August 4), students will move around the city to explore and experience a wide variety of people, places, organizations, businesses, government agencies, and cultural institutions in DC with connections to Japan. This is a really fun program – and life-transforming. Students will document their experiences through writing, photography, and other creative expression. This free program will be offered in partnership with the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP), which allows registered students to earn summer pay for participation. Any students even considering applying for JAPAN IN DC should be sure to register with MBSYEP before the February 28 deadline.
To Apply for JAPAN IN DC: Globalize DC will select students for JAPAN IN DC through a citywide application process. The program is open to DC public high school students (DCPS or charter). Click below for more program details and to submit an application. We plan to accept up to twenty (20) students.
Please help share this information with interested students and parents, as well as teachers, partners, and others who can help us spread the word to DC high school students throughout all 8 wards of the city. You can use the link to our JAPAN IN DC webpage, which will be updated with new information as it develops.
WE ARE ALSO SEEKING TWO DYNAMIC PART-TIME STAFF MEMBERS FOR THIS SUMMER’S JAPAN IN DC PROGRAM
We are currently recruiting two Co-Teachers to lead this summer’s JAPAN IN DC Program. Ideal candidates would be secondary teachers, international education professionals, JET alumni, graduate students, or others with relevant experience. This is a fun program, for students and adult leaders, with significant movement across the city. High energy, dedication to high school student learning, and knowledge of DC geography a must.
You know when you feel nervous when entering a new school year, or entering a restaurant where you feel pressured and overwhelmed by the menu? If you do, that’s how I felt when I entered the Z-Burger and saw the Japanese students ordering and talking with their friends. If you don’t, I don’t know another way to explain it…sorry. When I entered the Z-Burger I was so nervous not from the fact that there were Japanese students in my presence, but from the idea that I would forget every conversation starter that I practiced with D’Amonie on the way there. Not only did I forget, but I felt bad when I didn’t know how to start a conversation with them.
I know they were able to tell how nervous I was. But I had nothing to worry about in the end, because they were really friendly, not only that but they were understanding. When I was eating lunch Ayana, one of the first people I met, was open to talking to me in English to help me out. We laughed mostly because she could tell that I was nervous, but she was nice about it.
When we arrived at the church, I was less tense and started to get more comfortable. It’s not that I wasn’t comfortable, it was just that my anxiety was getting to me so I didn’t really feel good. But again, when on the way to the church, I had a chance to calm myself down. During our visit at the church, we learned more about Japan and the United States relationship after the atomic bombing. When we were walking and observing the hallways, where the art of kids who were victims of the atomic bombing was displayed, we had a chance to converse with each other on what we thought about the art. In addition, we talked about how complex it is to answer a question from being outside of the situation. For example, we were asked, “How do you think Japan and the United States come to have a good relationship, especially since the United States was the one who ordered the atomic bomb to be sent?” My group, which consisted of 4 Japanese students and 3 Globalize DC students, we all agreed that it was a difficult question to answer.
During the end of our visitation, my group and I were told to try to converse in Japanese to help us (1) get to know each other, and (2) to help us (Globalize DC students) with our Japanese. At first I started to get anxious again and started stuttering. Though I was anxious, the fact that Koua, Tomoya and the rest of our group were willing to share their likes and dislikes. Me and Tomoya bonded the most since he was the person closest, especially since we both like Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande.
In the end, I found myself finding it funny how I was so anxious about meeting them, but in the end I found myself upset at the fact that we had limited time together and how that time was coming to an end.
We all waved goodbye and went our separate ways, but not before promising to each other that we’ll keep in touch. All in all, it was an experience that I will never forget!
On February 5th, Japanese Plus students received the amazing opportunity to get to know a group of Japanese exchange students who came to DC for an afternoon. It was especially exciting because of the exchange of cultures and languages that took place that day, where everyone tried their best to understand each other despite each other’s major differences.
One of my favorite parts of the exchange was meeting Yui and Tomoya. While I was so nervous I could feel my heart in my ears and my hands shook as I tried not to drop my cheeseburger, out of the spur of the moment I decided to pick a seat in the first booth I found. This seat would later become the best decision I had ever made, because though I did not know it at the moment, my day was about to completely change its course.
They told me they both came from the same school in Hiroshima and happened to be the same age as me. I asked them how long they had been studying English: four years. They asked me: three years. We talked about each other’s interests: why do I like Japan? I have always wanted to study abroad there, I told them, and then I asked what they thought about my hometown, Washington DC. They said they loved it and began to tell me about all of the things they had done so far, where they were planning to go next, and when they would leave. I learned Yui is great at calligraphy, her grandmother is a teacher for “sadou,” Japanese traditional tea ceremony, she is on the volleyball team, while Tomoya plays baseball, and his friends call him “Bacchi” for short. I learned there are two different types of “okonomiyaki”; one from Osaka and Hiroshima, though the Hiroshima one is obviously better. Most of all, I learned, after talking with these two for hours, that regardless of one’s language and culture, people will always be people. We still make the same jokes, laugh at the same things, and share similar views of life despite our homes being hundreds and thousands of miles apart.
The only sour part of my day was having to say goodbye. The three of us promised we would see each other again soon, whether it be in America again or in their country, Japan. We took our final photos together and made sure we had each other’s contacts saved. Though it was short, I know I will never forget this day and the people it brought me close to.
Yesterday February 5th, Globalize DC was able to meet with 18 high school students from Hiroshima, Japan, thanks to Kakehashi. We were notified of the meeting around 3 weeks before the set date, so the whole class started studying more than ever. We had a sheet of paper with questions we wanted to ask them and basic Japanese phrases to use. I was so scared of messing up my Japanese that I would stay up revising lines like なんさいですか (How old are you?) and なんねんせいですか (What grade are you in?). Ms. Sally told us a few days before that the Japanese students would probably be shy and that we would have to initiate conversation, but that was the farthest thing from the truth.
When we arrived at Z-burger in Tenleytown, we got to finally meet the students by having lunch with them. I was able to sit down with こうあさん (Koa) and こはなさん (Kohana), along with D’Amonie. At first I was really nervous that I forgot a lot of my Japanese and I was only able to say what my name was. But that was not a problem because both Koa and Kohana were so nice that we were able to ask each other questions in both English and Japanese. It was so fun to ask them about what they like, what shows they watch and what type of music they listen to (K-pop). It was nice to see what things we have in common even though we live so far away.
When we were on the bus to the church, where we would continue the rest of the activity, I sat next to あやなさん (Ayana). She was probably the most social person I talked to and was so easy to talk to. Getting to know how excited she was to be here and talk to me in Japanese was very exciting. When we finally got to the church I was more confident in my Japanese. I also got to sit with こはなさん (Kohana), まいかさん (Maika), まやさん (Maya), ちひろさん (Chihiro) and かえらさん (Kaera). There we were all able to talk about our family, what we like, and I was able to learn some Japanese ‘slang’ that I would never learn in a classroom. Unfortunately, it was soon time to say goodbye. Although most of us were able to exchange Instagrams and take many pictures together, we still didn’t want to end the conversations. But I am confident enough to say that I have made new ともだち (friends).
This whole experience motivated me to get even better at Japanese. Being able to communicate with native speakers my age was probably my favorite thing that I have ever done in this program. I will always remember this moment and smile with joy. I hope to one day be able to meet my friends again whether it be D.C. or in Japan.