Carlos’s Final Reflection

By Carlos Ramirez

The time flies as the last minutes of the program seem to go down. Lately, I have been imagining what I would be with my life outside the program. It’s been a rough year. I had difficulties in my school (academically) and personal life. What the program did to me was giving a sense of family since I’ve been here in the US. Every time I went to the program I sensed a great feeling of community, outside learning a new language that is always a pleasant experience to better understand the variety of culture that this world could offer and the expansion of knowledge about Japan. However, even I have to say that my biggest motivation was not only learning the language but passing time with my peers. However, that does not mean that I went every Wednesday and Saturday to just talk.

I never expected to really, genuinely like a class as I did love Japanese Plus. Being surrounded with people who have the same likes as you, it feels comfortable. People who are really interested in learning like you. That sense of community, knowing if we get something wrong, we are going to be corrected from our peers. Be with people who think like you, and people who will support you because everyone wants to learn.

It is amazing to have this sense of community as the Japanese. Japanese people are more a community system, as Americans are more individualistic. I learned that making groups and hearing everyone’s expressions is really important, and that can lead to a great idea. I like that the program builds that sense. For me personally, I’m always being an individualistic person. This program taught me that I need to learn as others learn. It also taught me about friendship, cooperation, and unity.

This is the end of one chapter for a few of us. We have lost peers that for some reason decided to leave, but the sense of community is still there and now is stronger than before. I will miss everyone’s face from now on (at least in class). It was a great year with many smiles that I (most of the time) provoked. It was a safe space where everyone was the same but unique at the same time. Personalities have grown and most of our peers have experienced growth, thanks to the program. They were taught that everyone has a talent. However, even if you do not have the talent you want, we all have talents that complement us. In this class, no one is better than anyone. We are all the same but different at the same time. I am going to miss it, but encourage everyone to keep up the hard work. Keep having the community feeling, keep, keep being better, do not give up. Every day is a new day. Mina-sab Ganbatte! And Arigato!. Jyaa-ne! I will see you around.

New Faces New Friends

By Carlos Daniel Ramirez

Recently on the Japanese Plus program, we got the glad visit of the KAKEHASHI trip. A few of us were exhilarated, anxious and fearless, but also with concerns since our confidence with our Japanese is not the greatest. Mostly, people were nervous because a few of us never went to Japan before, or have not met anyone Japanese around the same age as us, but because some of us had already experience with them, we were absolutely excited for meeting new people.

Since their stay with us was nothing but a quick break from their busy itinerary, we tried to make their experience the most authentic possible – teaching them the Cha-Cha Slide dance. Something that will keep their memories vivid any time they hear “left” or “right,” or even when they hear the word “Cha-Cha-Cha.”

For instance, that was only on our side. The kids from Okinawa did clever presentations to express and share their culture with us. Although some of us were interested in what the food may look like in Okinawa (not me), most of us were interested in the art, traditions, and everything that involved that part of Japan. It’s interesting to perceive that every part of Japan is unique, as every prefecture appears more different than the others. We did not only learn that there were 160 islands in Okinawa, but also that they were the main founders of Karate, and also that they have a ton of rare species of fish.

We had a little conversation with them to seek any new long-lasting friendship, talking to them and seeing their kindness, and friendship that they are characterized by and that they are well being known for. We figured out that we had nothing to fear. Perhaps, our confidence in asking questions in Japanese and watching them be impressed by our great pronunciation (and because they were able to understand everything) the time passed as a gazelle in Africa running away from his predator.

Sadly, even when we wanted to know them better, we had to say bye-bye to our new friends. The emotions were mixed in that small time when we saw them running towards the bus to the last goodbye. “It felt like 10 minutes,” someone said. To which I added: “It was 3 hours. Boy, I am hungry, let me go home,”- me. Well, that was both me, but the importance is that it felt like time just flew away, and I am looking forward to visiting Okinawa, maybe soon. Who knows?

Sharing appreciation

Before winter break, we asked students to take time to express appreciation or recognize the accomplishments of one or two of their Japanese Plus classmates. The results:

Angel: Asa, thanks for always having a smile on your face. It’s really nice talking to you. You make the learning environment brighter.

Maria: I like how Angel tries hard and takes lead of our group. I also appreciate how both Carlos and Luis did the performance the other day alone.

Cyrus: I like hearing Alexx and Theo’s Japanese, because it sounds close to what I’ve heard in media.

Asa: I’m thankful for the encouragement of Lucca for helping me practice and also Che for being the person to help lighten the mood and make me laugh.

Chetachukwu: Carlos is a nice and funny person. It is really helpful and helps me grow educationally. Asa is a funny soul and I like her skirts.

Alexx: I’d like to thank Che for always being on point. She did a lot for our group and was really responsible. I’m glad I have her in my group. I’m also thankful for Gabe who always works really hard. He inspires me to push myself even harder.

Gabe: Jonah, keeping the class always positive and giving heartfelt thanks to visitors. Alexx, for helping a ton in my group, especially during the skit.

Jazmin: I would like to thank Theo and Elena for helping me a lot when learning my katakana. They always make me laugh, and I’m glad to have them in my group.

Katie: I’m really happy that Asa is here with me since she told me about this program and that she’s been with me this whole entire time, even if I am annoying to her. I’m also really happy that Jazmin is here since I can ask her about Japan since she has been there and that she is someone I know who can be there for me.

Jonah: Carlos is very optimistic and a good friend always willing to help. Kenny seems to always want to learn and never bummed and is fun.

Arjernae: I’m proud of Alayshia for being dedicated and not quitting even with people telling her to. I’m proud of Cyrus because he’s one of the few people I see and he acknowledges me when I come to class. Also he’s becoming more open and not as shy as he was in the beginning.

Theo: Jazmin is a very hard worker and I really respect her drive. Alexx has a strong grasp on the language and I find her very impressive in general.