3-11

The Disaster Prevention Building in Minamisanriku, Japan – after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011

By Asa Marshall

To remember is to not forget
To not forget however is not enough

The clashing plates echo through the foundations of history leaving a permanent crack in the world of many
The tears make up the waves drowning the horizon in sorrow
The shouts spark flames in the smoke dense wind reaching from east to south plucking away the life of each passing blossom

To remember is to tell the story
To share experiences of yourself and others
To feel the pain yet console the truly broken hearted

Knowing does nothing until you use your voice
Be the voice for the unheard
Be the voice the world hears from the tops of mountains and troughs of the valleys resounding the message of yesterdays and tomorrows

To remember is to not forget
To not forget however is not enough

Special visitors from Japan

By Asa Marshall

On Wednesday February 19th, we had special guests. We were anticipating meeting Eshita-sensei’s parents, Toru and Yumiko Eshita. They came from Fukuoka and we were so excited to finally meet them. Class went as usual but we were all so shy and did not want to mess up while speaking. We all were so worried but we did our best. Her parents were so nice and I was so happy because they brought us the cutest gifts. They gave us small pouches that either had a ねこ(Lucky Cat) or a だるま(Lucky Daruma) print with rice crackers. I was so happy about the pouch and I use it all the time. They were so kind and supportive when we were trying to speak and they were so interesting to talk to. I found out that her dad was actually was a big fan of American baseball. I hope they come back again soon because I think we should give them something in return.

DC Multilingual Fair

By Asa Marshall

On Saturday, January 25th from 10am to 3pm, Japanese Plus had a booth at the 2020 Multilingual Education Fair of DC at Roosevelt High School, held by the DC Language Immersion Project that featured 150+ exhibitors, 18+ languages and career connections.

At our booth we were spreading the word of our program and getting contact information for those interested in applying for the next school year as well as those interested in pre-ordering the new Japan in DC book I was happy to be featured in. I was not that excited to work the booth at first, because it was my birthday and it wasn’t the ideal situation to be doing community service activities but I don’t regret it. I had the first shift from 9am to 11am and me and Katie helped Sally set up and work the booth.

It was cool walking around seeing all of the programs in DC I never heard of! I enjoyed the JICC (Japan Information and Culture Center) booth the most, because they visited our class many times and everyone was so nice and I felt accomplished when I could answer their mini quiz! I entered a goodie bag giveaway and actually won! I was also very interested in the many other languages and travel programs, and one I never thought was offered in DC was German.

There were so many great programs that students hardly hear about, so the fair was a great way to allow the public to get language and career connections. DCPS languages are very restricted to focusing on romance languages, such as French and Spanish, but it would be more helpful for programs such as ours and those of other languages to be more open, because students have far more interests than what school offers! If you get the chance, you should definitely consider attending next year!

Applying Japanese to my life

By Asa Marshall

On Wednesday, November 15th, 2019, my AP Language teacher, Ms. Berke, gave us a prompt from the Pulitzer Center’s contest for an under-reported news story. We were free to choose any topic, write a letter to a Congressperson that discusses our opinions on an issue, and propose ways to fix it as well as why it is important to us and our community. I was really excited to do this assignment and even though I wasn’t eligible to enter the contest, because my news source of choice was not permitted, I immediately thought of ways I could use what we discussed in Japanese class, where we always read very interesting articles and discuss topics that could be connected to the rest of the world. I recognized one of the sites our teacher allowed us to use for the assignment, which was The Atlantic, and I found a publication titled, Scenes From the Aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis in Japan, by Alan Taylor, which was a collection of images from the disaster that happened around October 8th-15th, 2019. It caught my attention, because we recently discussed the article, Climate Change Could Turn the Tokyo Olympics Into a Disaster, by Eric Margolis from Slate, that discussed the growing concerns surrounding climate change, the effects it had in Japan, and new worries of how it would affect the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. I decided to use the photos to write my letter to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

A part of my letter stated that, “While this publication had no opinions presented, it can offer some insight to both culture and the environment which could greatly influence us in America by bringing up these topics of the worsening climate, while also reflecting on the differences in cultures and ideals that would be beneficial to adopt into our own society.” My main idea was to make comparisons to the damages of the earthquake and typhoon in Tohoku on March 11th, 2011, Typhoon Ida of 1958, and World War II, but also the unity of the rebuilding process. It is important to improve the environment and rethink pulling from the Paris Agreement, but it is just as significant to analyze the morals of Japanese society, which would greatly better America if we were to adopt a similar mindset of working for the community to reach common goals.

I was very passionate about my letter and I hoped to get a good grade because so far, my teacher was very impressed by how much I knew about the topic. She explained to me that being in Japanese Plus is an excellent way to become a better global citizen. From what she saw, many students had trouble fully grasping their topics, because they didn’t have a lot of prior knowledge. This made me feel very proud of my work, but also made me wonder if I wanted to explore more into political sciences and consider becoming a diplomat or ambassador after college.

I’ve always found it exciting to learn about other countries and the issues, commonalities, and differences we all share. For example, an organization I have been a participant in was LINKS Inc., which is a group of African-American women who meet with students in order to discuss international trends and is devoted to education and advocacy and volunteering in African-American communities. I’ve been a part of this program since 6th grade and on this past Tuesday, I met the Haitian Ambassador, His Excellency, Hervé Denis. This was one of the many experiences that made me really wonder if this was something I wanted to work on later in life. Being in both Japanese Plus as well as LINKS and taking part in the mini U.N for a couple years, while also writing the letter for the Pulitzer Center assignment, really inspired me to use my interests in history and culture to help me get a better idea at what I want to be when I grow up. I found these connections very intriguing and it is likely going to be an enlightening experience I will always remember.

Girls Playing Kickball

By Asa Marshall

The artwork I saw at the Freer Gallery was “Girls Playing Kickball,” which portrayed a scene from the Tale of Genji, which is a great work of literature written by Murasaki Shikibu in 1008. This piece visualized the scene when the courtier, Kashiwagi, is playing kickball and he sees the Third Princess behind bamboo blinds, but in this painting the gender roles are reversed with a man watching a group of girls playing the game.

This piece was made by Kawamata Tsuneyuki in the 18th century, which is considered the Edo period of Japan. The story behind this work interested me partly because I love the Tale of Genji. The fact that the gender roles were reversed in this revisited version of artwork was interesting because I wondered why the artist made this alteration. To me it gave an impactful presence, because oftentimes women are spotted by men, but seeing the women active and engaging in sport activities, while the man being more hidden and reserved, is very different to other artworks where women would be portrayed as the more subtle character. It was a great contrast to what ideals would be considered more traditional and I like the simplicity of the artwork.

Visiting TOKIYA JAPAN

By Asa Marshall

On Saturday, September 28th, 2019, I visited TOKIYA JAPAN. It is a little shop next door to Hana Market, which is a small Japanese market. TOKIYA JAPAN is a kimono shop located at 2002 17th St NW, Washington DC. I visited a couple times before, because it is a very quaint shop and it’s very cozy and welcoming. This shop actually is a place where you can buy pottery and jewelry made with traditional Japanese methods and designs, as well as trying on and buying kimono. I often visit this little shop every time I go to Hana Market, because it’s really interesting and everything is so beautiful. This time however, I noticed that all around the shop there are pieces of historic information about the pieces, and also how to properly wear yukata (kimono worn in summer).

I was really captivated by all the trinkets and art pieces in the shop and I think it would make a nice trip for the class, because we did recently discuss an article about the foreigners wearing a kimono incorrectly. I’m sure it would make a cool learning experience and it might be very fun because I’m sure many in the class would want to try on kimono!

 

Asa’s Final Reflection

By Asa Marshall

My point of view on the ways you treat people made me more mindful. Learning and understanding the different ways people function in society in Japan compared to the US is quite different. I noticed the ways Japanese value respect on almost another level, and they seldom confront or try to purposefully antagonize others. This is also possibly due to their society being so homogeneous compared to ours. In their society I think a big factor in the ways they treat others and think is due to everyone having the same or similar points of view, and there being one constant role of tradition between most of the people, which establishes the way people act and approach life and others for many generations.

In the US, our country is very vibrant and loud, and there are people from all around the world who don’t always share similar ideas or views of life. I feel that compared to Japan, people are less considerate of people and at times this can be an issue, though both societies can have flaws just alike. I learned that it is important and also good character to always prefer peace and take into consideration the feelings of the other person in any situation.

In my life, this class highly influenced me, and I had a changed mindset about how I treat others and the ways I approach others. It helped me make new friends and build stronger bonds with others.  Manners and the way you treat others plays a significant role in Japanese society and is valued more than in America at times. There are patterns I observe within our own country that reflect the individualistic mindset of Americans which sometimes makes it difficult to be mindful of your conduct and how others should be treated and appreciated. Respect should be valued and should be shown to all people respectively. Learning about the ways Japanese people interact and the mindset they value, such as embracing imperfections, which is known as wabi sabi, and working together for a common goal, has influenced me greatly in the aspects of how I approach others and myself. I learned to value people and the flaws of life and learn to work with them to become better.