By Cyrus Johnson

This past Saturday, some of my classmates, Ms. Sally, Eshita-sensei, and I went to eat at Rakuya, a Japanese restaurant near Dupont Circle. I didn’t even know there was a restaurant there, and I pass it a lot. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. When I got a menu I was kinda expecting more on it, but they had some really good food. I ordered the Tokyo broth ramen with chicken and egg noodles, and most of my classmates and I got a bottle of Ramune. The portions were a lot bigger than I thought, and I couldn’t finish it. Luckily, Alexx said they’d take my leftovers, so it wasn’t wasted!

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.

What are you most proud of?

Before winter break, we asked our Japanese Plus students to reflect on their time in the program so far, and to share what they felt most proud of. Here are they answers:

Angel: I’m proud of the onigiri that I made and improving in katakana.

Maria: I am most proud of the self-introductions we have learned.

Cyrus: I guess just being able to talk to new people and not be a complete mess.

Asa: I’m most proud of me mastering katakana but mostly gaining more courage to speak out and meet new people.

Che: The fact that I memorized all my katakana. I know most of my combinations.

Alexx: I’m most proud of my speaking abilities in terms of public speaking. I’m not very good at speaking loud and clear, so I’ve been really happy with how far I’ve come.

Gabe: I went from knowing one Japanese word to being able to introduce myself and knowing katakana.

Jazmin: I’m most proud of my speaking skills, because I’ve improved a lot since the last time Eshita sensei taught me some phrases when I was in “Japan in DC.”

Katie: I’m really proud that we finished learning katakana and mastering it. I really thought it would take a long time to learn.

Jonah: Learning katakana and meeting with new people.

Arjernae: Learning basic Japanese is what I am most proud of (katakana, introduction, writing).

Theo: Probably the feeling of mastery over a different alphabetical system to the point that I recognize meaning relatively quickly.

Group Scoring Grid

By Cyrus Johnson

To be honest, when I was told I was enrolling in a “challenging Japanese class,” I somehow didn’t expect a grade. So I enrolled thinking it wouldn’t be anything too serious. Then, after I was accepted into the class, we were told that we were expected to write blogs. This, believe it or not, worried me greatly. I never liked talking about myself or my experiences, or even writing essays. I kinda figured I’d lay low and see what I could pick up after a while. It worked, somewhat, until we were given the Group Scoring Grid.

On the Group Scoring Grid, it shows us our minimum and maximum for an aspect of the class, such as attendance, homework, our katakana, and, of course, how many blogs we write. According to the Grid, we are each supposed to have done at least two blog posts by December 12th. I, attempting to avoid my least favorite part, have done none at that point. The Grid also says that we could get extra credit by writing more than two, but I won’t bother writing a third. I already have enough homework from school!