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.

The Power of Language

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

We’ve had a few visitors so far this Japanese school year, but the visitors that have impacted me the most were from November 3rd. Initially, before their arrival, I was panicking because we needed to introduce ourselves as we always do, now that we know self-introduction. For me it’s always kind of hard, because I practice a lot to the point that I know it, but when it comes to the moment of actually saying the self-introduction I almost forget. My nervousness impedes me from calming down and making me forget a little, although in the end my self-introduction turned out fine, better than what I was hoping for.

One of the visitors was Yuuki Shinomiya, and he’s the director of Strategy and Chief of Staff at Septeni Global. He works in advertising and with the gaming industry. The other visitors were Hiroyuki and Aoi Takai. Mr. Takai is the Head of the Washington D.C. Office of Sumitomo Corporation and also involved in the Japan Commerce Association of Washington. which is an association of Japanese businesses. There he’s in charge of language education here in Washington D.C., which impacts Japanese Plus because we’re the after-school group in D.C. that studies Japanese as a language. Ms. Takai, on the other hand, talked more about language and culture. She talked about how she studied English through the radio, etc., as a second language, and compared the two different cultures. This was important because she talked about how learning a different language also helped her in career and job, and helped me think about how I would use Japanese language in the future.


For me the visitors impacted me because they made me understand what the power of language really does have and how it’s important, especially in today’s globalized world. I’m always motivated to learn new languages that I’m interested in learning, but the visitors from today inspired me with more motivation to learn Japanese, despite its difficulties. They made me embrace that knowing more than one language is essential and actually like a secret weapon to communicate with many people around the world. Learning new languages can provide different perspectives and lenses on how we can view the world. Therefore, they made me also realize that knowing more than one language can be useful in the future, that it’s definitely worth it to learn Japanese. Which I’m enjoying so far, and I can’t wait to learn more Japanese!

Jazmin’s KAKEHASHI Reflection

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman (Japan in DC)

Going to Japan was a life-changing experience for me. I’m really glad I went to Japan because initially I wasn’t going to, but I’m really glad I did. If I didn’t go, I wouldn’t have met my wonderful host family. The homestay was my top favorite thing of the Japan trip, because I made a new family and in the end I felt like I was at home. They took me and my partner Jamilet to Gifu City and there we went to a museum and learned lots of things of Japanese life during the Edo period, including learning how to make sparks, using two rocks. It was a lot of fun, and then we went to a castle on top of the hill on a zipline cart. Then we went to a shopping center because the stationery in Japan is amazing. Afterwards we went to an Okonomiyaki restaurant and in the end they took us to karaoke.

We had lots of fun and I learned a lot of things during my homestay, especially the fact that Japanese homes are very cold. I miss lying on a futon with an electric blanket and my host mom’s cooking. My favorite dish that she cooked was called tonjuru, which is pork soup. I learned a lot about my family in general and one of their surprises that they had for us is a welcoming party, which was as warm and fun when we first met them, they did a welcome sign for us. I miss them so much, but I know for a fact that I have a home in Japan.

Another favorite activity during the trip to Japan was going to a high school in Gifu prefecture. The students were so happy to see us and we did a lot of fun things that made me really not want to leave. First we talked and introduced ourselves, and then they took us to their gym to watch a taiko (Japanese drumming) performance performed by the students and it was awesome, I really like the energy that they put into the performance and the beat of the performance. Then we did taiko drumming ourselves, which was really loud and awesome. Afterwards they took us to do calligraphy, which is hard because I didn’t know a lot of kanji, though I did learn some. Then we went to listen to a koto (Japanese string instrument) performance and went to see a bit what Japanese archery is like. Leaving the school I was really sad, because I wanted to stay but I knew that I would come back, that it wasn’t going to be a last goodbye.

Personally, the impact that this trip had on me is learning how to take a once in a lifetime opportunity because you can’t get it back. I’m still learning how to get out of my comfort zone in order to do these amazing opportunities that I never thought I would have done. Going on this trip also deepened my interest to learn even more about Japanese culture and language, because going to another country on the other side of the world is mind blowing and has shown me how interconnected the world could be, but different with many different cultures. I would want to come back to Japan and probably live there for some time teaching English as a second language to students. Some insights that I learned in Japan are how time is really crucial and important in Japan, how it shows that you care and you’re respecting everyone else’s time. In addition, I’ve seen the respect in Japan and how cooperation is big, that no matter the job occupation a person has, everyone deserves respect. I’m really grateful for going to Japan, which changed my life and made me make new connections on the other side of the world.

Blue Star of Life

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

On Tuesday, October 31st 2017 I had the opportunity to go to the Blue Star of Life Ceremony at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and met nine wonderful Japanese students. All of us DC students had the opportunity to drop pebbles inside the vase, Blue Star of Life, to symbolize peace and friendship between the United States and Japan.

It was a once in a lifetime experience for me because it was a life lesson that Sally Schwartz taught me and once said, “Life is more than being in a classroom.” It even motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and learn more about our interconnected world. As much as I was nervous of meeting university students and a high school student, it made me realize that they were also nervous and they’re just like me. I wish there were more experiences like this and this has definitely taught me a lot about global citizenship.