Remembering 3-11

By Katie:

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami began on March 11, 2011 with almost 22,000 deaths. I believe that to preserve the event and to honor what had happened, we should have a moment of silence and learn what happened on March 11, just like on September 11 when the twin towers had fallen. We should also be more supportive and caring to the victims of the earthquake/tsunami. I was thinking that we can integrate at least learning a bit of Japanese to honor the Japanese victims and I feel that others should be aware of what happened. It is really heartbreaking to see that Japanese victims are still recovering from an event nine years ago. Even after watching 10 mins of the film that Eshita-sensei and Sally showed us, I was pretty shocked by the impact of the tsunami and was disappointed in myself for not being aware of the effect the tsunami had on residents.

By Jazmin:

The Great East Japan Earthquake was a tragedy. I can’t imagine the loss of those lives who were swept from the tsunami in Northern Japan. An earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0, gives me goosebumps even thinking about it. In order to remember this tragic event, I think by more people being aware and or learning about this tragic event is one way to honor what happened there. There are others who don’t know anything about the 3/11 Great Earthquake. Another way we can remember this event is to visit areas that were affected by the tsunami, and help those in need. There are still people who haven’t fully recovered from the Earthquake. We can visit people in those areas and we can hear their stories. It’s one way we can connect with them, and can resonate with them one way or another. When I watched a clip while the tsunami was happening online, I saw people running to higher grounds. Those who ran faster were missed by the tsunami by mere seconds. The tsunami ran about 6 miles inland, and caused an accident at the Fukushima Nuclear power plant as well. It’s sad and heartbreaking that over 18,000 people died. I hope in the future, there are ways we can avoid this tragic event from repeating itself and doing things differently to prevent it from happening again.

By Theo:

I’ve been thinking about the events of March 11, 2011 for a while now and how I, as both a student and an American can honor the loss of so many people. I confess, I still haven’t found a satisfying conclusion, but for now I am content in submitting my philosophical ramblings for a wider audience.

I believe it’s honestly rather hard to sympathize with someone an ocean away, and harder still to empathize with them. Understanding can come easy; loss is, after all, something everyone experiences multiple times throughout their life and that shared experience breeds a shared understanding. Empathy, however, requires one to take the extra step and to share the same feelings as another person. Of course, emotion being so nuanced it is impossible to truly understand and to truly feel the depths to which an individual experiences loss and as such, we only feel empathy in a broad sense. In my experience, this vague form of empathy is present even among close relations, be they family or friends, and thus it should come as no surprise that our already incomplete empathy is spread thinner and thinner as it looks further and further away. The result is that, at least on a personal level, I cannot empathize with the many Japanese people who lost both possessions and relations at a truly meaningful level. Instead I’m left thinking “I’m sorry” or “that’s so sad.” The issue I have with these thoughts are that they exist to placate my own desire to empathize for fear that a lack of empathy would make me a bad person. Personally, after a great deal of thought, I don’t believe true empathy is necessary, nor is it a reasonable request for Americans in general to hold any deeper emotions than those on the surface when discussing Japan.

What I do think is necessary is understanding, recognition, and respect. Even if you cannot feel what the many people who lost their loved ones feel, it is important to realize where that feeling stems from and to respect the depth and enormity of such feelings. For an American, I believe this attempt is one of the best things one can do for those who know loss from a world away.

By Aeris:

Natural disasters are a very real and very scary threat in our lives. Some of us may be safe from them, and others see so many it’s as if they’ve survived a war. In class, we watched a short documentary showing the horrific tragedy that was the earthquake followed by a tsunami in Tohoku, Japan on March 11th, 2011. The class fell into a petrified hush as we watched people try to rescue people from the waves only to be pulled in themselves. From people describing how they watched their friends and loved ones be swept away in front of their eyes, to others recounting their narrow escapes from death. I think I was honestly near tears… I don’t even think I had noticed the subtitles and could honestly hear the pain in their voices which greatly upset me. Unlike in many situations, there’s always a way you could learn from the past, but having to write about this felt very weird, I feel like this is not my place to speak about it, it’s not my trauma to unpack. Many people only had moments notice before they were able to get away, and even those who did get away to evacuation zones also got swept away. Over 18,000 people died in the tsunami, and the rest came back to towns that were completely washed away. Many towns still look like they did after the tsunami today. I know there are also still many relief efforts going on and it reminded me of a story I heard from a JET participant, who spent their days off volunteering to help clean up in some of the affected towns. I would like to help with those efforts when I go to Japan.

By Jonah:

There are too many emotions running rampant after any catastrophe. All are appropriate for you to experience. There are pains and aches that will plague anyone after a loss this large, which are appropriate feelings. Time can only heal, and it always will take time. There will be better days and there will be more time to heal, there will be more opportunity to recover from this loss. Be sure to make the most out of each moment and live to the fullest, each moment should count.

Meeting Ryoma San!

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

Today, February 29, 2020, while I was walking towards the classroom, I noticed something blue. A blue that speaks to the soul and attracts the eye. My favorite color is blue, and whenever I see blue I’m always intrigued by that something. Then I found out that he was Ryoma Tatsuoka. Apart from having amazing blue hair, Ryoma san is an exchange student who participated with the YFU exchange program. He is from Osaka, Japan and he’s seventeen years old. He now stays with a host family and attends School Without Walls, a high school located in Washington, D.C. Today, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to meet Ryoma san. He’s funny and always helpful when you ask for help. He was always helping me with my Japanese when I made a mistake, or he would jump in to come out and help me. During our conversations in our small groups, he was the facilitator.

When I look at him, it’s still strange to me that I am older than him! I find it’s a great opportunity to be able to speak with a Japanese native speaker who’s around my age. I’m applying the Japanese I have learned thus far and putting it to practice. That is one of the things I love about learning languages. Learning languages is the key that enables you to speak, interact, and network with other people. You can learn so many things with just one sentence. For example, that one sentence can be a sentence of introduction about yourself. In my junior year of high school, I learned something really important about languages. Languages aren’t only about communicating with words, it’s about communicating and expressing your ideas to other people, in addition to sharing those ideas. Therefore, I’m glad I met Ryoma san today.

 

Japanese reflections on a visit with Hokusai

On Saturday, February 8th, our Japanese Plus group had a special day outside the classroom. First we went to the Freer Gallery of Art to visit the very special exhibit, “Hokusai: Mad About Painting.” We are so grateful (again) to good friend of the program, Robin Berrington, who was our extremely knowledgeable and interactive docent. Then we walked across the Mall and into Chinatown – we were only allowed to speak Japanese the whole time! Last stop was the National Portrait Gallery, where we stopped by a painting by Japanese American artist, Roger Shimomura. Then Eshita-sensei asked students to write about their day – again, in Japanese. A fun challenge!

Cyrus サイラス

今日クラスでフリアーサックラーにいきました。 フリアーサックラーはびじゅつかんです。ツアーをしました。北斎のえを見ました。きれいとおもった。ぼくのすきな北斎のえは「Storm Personified」です。らいじんとしんとうがすきですから、おもしろかった。

Aeris エリス

フリアーサックラーにいきました。ロビンさんは私達のガイドでした。ツアーはとてもおもしろかったです。北斎のえはかんぺきでした、たしかに北斎はよくがんばったとおもいました。びじゅつ学校に入っていますから、本当にたのしかった。ロビンさんはとてもじょうずなガイドでした。私の一ばん好きなえはおしょうがつの女シリーズでした。スタイルはじょうひんだとおもいました。もう一回見に行きたいです!:D

Theo シオ

フリアーでとあるひとのれきしをみました。ツアーのあいだにほくさいさんのえはかわって、もっとうつくしくなりました。あのさいごのえはわたしのいきをとりました。あのいろとかげがとってもすばらしかった。

ツアーもすばらしかった。そしてロビンさんはちしきがありすぎました。ロビンさんからいろいろならえました。そして、わたしはたぶんひとりでもっとべんきょうします。つまり、たのしかったです。もういちどいきたい。

Jonah ジョナ

ほくさいはほんとうにゆうめいです。私の一ばんすきなえはらいじんです。ロビンはいいガイドです。ぜんぶのほくさいのえは、かっこいいです。

Jazmin ジャズミン

ふじがすきです。

みずがいちばんすきです。

ほくさいのまんががすきです。でも今のまんがはわかりません。

Katie ケーティー

ほくさいはおもしろいです。Gazing into the Distanceがいちばんすきです。ふじと男の子があります。きれいでくろいです。

Lucca ルカ

大きいびじゅつかんにいきました。このびじゅつかんはオバマのえがあります。私は2018ねんにみました。すごいですよ。日本のえもあります。日系アメリカ人がかきました。すごいけど、かなしいです。

みんなは三十分ぐらい日本ごではなしてみました。今日はさむかったですから、たくさんの人はコートをきました。でもジョナくんはコートがありません。みんなはほんとうの木をみました。この木はすごく大きいです。びじゅつかんのえもぐこし大きいです。そして、きれいでうつくしいですよ。

みんなはほくさいのびじゅつかんにいきました。ほくさいは日本のゆうめいながかです。ほくさいのえはほんとうにすごいですよ。そしてとてもちがいます。

 

Back to Karuta


By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

We are back to Japanese Plus year two school year! We are starting off with a game of Karuta, a game where a speaker sings Japanese poems and the players have to look for a card that matches what the speaker sings. It was my first time playing Karuta, and it helped me get back to reading hiragana as review. Hiragana is one of the three Japanese scripts for writing. I did not know how competitive Karuta is until I saw my teammates and the other players kept on snatching the Karuta cards within nanoseconds. I barely had enough time to read some of the Karuta cards myself.

Playing a game with my classmates made me feel happy that I got to see them again. I hope that this year all of us can grow and achieve things together. Hopefully, this year we would have the opportunity to go to Japan and make a lot of memories! I am also happy to see my teacher Eshita Sensei and my coordinator Sally Schwartz again.

Almost done for the year

Jazmin Angel-Guzman

On Saturday, we went to the Japanese restaurant Rakuya at Dupont Circle. It was the second to last official day of Japanese Plus. Initially, I was really sad and torn apart that we were about to end Japanese Plus I. But I remembered that I’m coming back for Japanese Plus II. Going to this luncheon made me see how special my class is. My Japanese Plus class consists of students from all over the city and different DC schools, making me meet new people.

I had a blast going out to eat with my class. I ordered egg noodles with shrimp tempura and for my drink, ramune. By the end, I was so full I had to wait a few minutes in order to walk! It was a nice way to close out the school year, but it was surreal that it was our last luncheon together as a class of 2019. I wish I could repeat the day again not only to eat food one more time but spend time with my class one last time.

Our final presentation

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

On May 29th, it was our Japanese Plus final presentations. The minute I walked in to Sumner School, the place we had our presentations, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was so nervous and I thought I wasn’t ready enough to perform our skits. The reception was nice, because we had food and interacted with our guests. I talked about the KAKEHASHI Project (our trip to Japan in 2018) with the photos we had, until it was about that time to perform. Although, there was a problem that I encountered.

On the day that I had to bring socks because I was going to take off my shoes for my skit, I didn’t because I forgot. I was very reluctant putting my feet where we were going to perform, because it was carpet. Before the few minutes we had to perform, I was thinking of a plan to not put my feet on the carpet, but still trying to show the cultural aspect in the skit – the cultural aspect of taking off shoes before entering someone’s home in Japan. But meeting a dead end, I decided I had to go with it and put my feet on the carpet for a few seconds and sit down for the last scene. We also had to present our reflections, which I wasn’t that prepared for either.

At the end of the program, I felt less nervous and we were given our certificates of completing Japanese Plus I. I felt happy for being a part of Japanese Plus, and growing in many ways during the program. I can’t wait to start Japanese Plus II next year. Although, I was sad that these were some of the last moments of the program, and I know I’ll miss it.

Jazmin’s Final Reflection

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

One major thing I have learned in Japanese Plus is the importance of language learning. Before I came to Japanese Plus, my hobby was self-learning languages, but I didn’t learn much about the cultural implications within a language. What I mean by cultural implications is that there’s more to language other than grammar, sentence structure, etc. That is just the surface of the language, but there is also more to learn by asking why do you say this? Or why do you say that instead of this?

I’ve learned that there can be so many ways to say thank you in Japanese depending on how formal you are. I’ve experienced that too within my household and my family. There are certain things that I can’t say to my mother because I’m formal to her. There are different forms of saying “you” in Spanish, but I wouldn’t say the casual form to her. Learning some of the cultural implications in the Japanese language has made me appreciate more of the cultural aspect of Japan.

The cultural implications have also made me learn from my experience when I went to Japan in February of 2018. I went to Japan with the KAKEHASHI Project and fortunately I stayed with a wonderful host family – although back then my Japanese was so limited I could barely say thank you, somewhat formally. I would say “arigato gozaimasu.” It wasn’t until Japanese Plus, that I could say thank you really formal. You would say, “Domo arigato gozaimasu.” Although the addition was just “domo,” it was such a significant snippet that was added to the formality of the phrase to the extent it changes the casual to more formal. I remember my host dad saying my Japanese was good, but for me I still felt kind of guilty I didn’t know much Japanese.