By Jeff Jenkins (Japanese Plus)
I must say that the program was marvelous, and I enjoyed every moment of it. From the people that I met and the things that I was able to experience, especially the homestay and the Gifu High School visit. I find it amazing how traditional Japan remains, while other countries are rushing to new advancements and technology, forgetting their cultural roots. The High School that we visited was a great example, because they had clubs for Japanese calligraphy, Japanese archery and Kumi daiko (traditional Japanese drums). It is amazing that teenagers can participate in more old-fashioned clubs, instead of just track and field, football and basketball. It’s awesome to know that they have a larger variety of activities to choose from for their afterschool activities, something I wish we had in America.
Being able to communicate with Japanese people in Japanese was super fun and it showed that I had come a long way from the last time that I had visited Japan, which was in the summer of 2016. Possessing the ability to read and communicate in Japanese filled me with me self-gratification and I couldn’t be any happier about it! Especially during my stay with my host family, I could convey my ideas to them and we could hold conversations with each other making our time together much enjoyable. I must say that it was quite interesting switching from Japanese and English, I remember quite clearly that I said the phrase “sumimasen” to both Japanese and English speakers one too many times, as if it was instinctively. The Japanese classes I have been taking for a year in a half truly paid off, and I’m thankful to my sensei and my Japanese Director for allowing me to see how much I’ve truly grown and gained a deeper perspective on Japan – specifically, their “Constitution,” which was crafted by the United States of America after WWII.
I had known that our relationship with Japan had been deep since WWII, however I never knew that we constructed a constitution that stops them from declaring war or going to battle with anyone. This was truly shocking to me, because I had always thought of the constitution as something that would only be used in America, not across the world. I only knew the tip of the iceberg when it came the relationship of Japan and America, but after my trip, I understood that it goes a lot deeper than we may know.