Kakehashi in DC

By Margarita Munoz Salazar

Yesterday February 5th, Globalize DC was able to meet with 18 high school students from Hiroshima, Japan, thanks to Kakehashi.  We were notified of the meeting around 3 weeks before the set date, so the whole class started studying more than ever. We had a sheet of paper with questions we wanted to ask them and basic Japanese phrases to use. I was so scared of messing up my Japanese that I would stay up revising lines like なんさいですか (How old are you?) and なんねんせいですか (What grade are you in?). Ms. Sally told us a few days before that the Japanese students would probably be shy and that we would have to initiate conversation, but that was the farthest thing from the truth. 

When we arrived at Z-burger in Tenleytown, we got to finally meet the students by having lunch with them.  I was able to sit down with こうあさん (Koa) and こはなさん (Kohana), along with D’Amonie. At first I was really nervous that I forgot a lot of my Japanese and I was only able to say what my name was. But that was not a problem because both Koa and Kohana were so nice that we were able to ask each other questions in both English and Japanese. It was so fun to ask them about what they like, what shows they watch and what type of music they listen to (K-pop). It was nice to see what things we have in common even though we live so far away. 

When we were on the bus to the church, where we would continue the rest of the activity, I sat next to あやなさん (Ayana). She was probably the most social person I talked to and was so easy to talk to. Getting to know how excited she was to be here and talk to me in Japanese was very exciting. When we finally got to the church I was more confident in my Japanese. I also got to sit with こはなさん (Kohana), まいかさん (Maika), まやさん (Maya), ちひろさん (Chihiro) and かえらさん (Kaera). There we were all able to talk about our family, what we like, and I was able to learn some Japanese ‘slang’ that I would never learn in a classroom.  Unfortunately, it was soon time to say goodbye. Although most of us were able to exchange Instagrams and take many pictures together, we still didn’t want to end the conversations. But I am confident enough to say that I have made new ともだち (friends). 

This whole experience motivated me to get even better at Japanese. Being able to communicate with native speakers my age was probably my favorite thing that I have ever done in this program. I will always remember this moment and smile with joy. I hope to one day be able to meet my friends again whether it be D.C. or in Japan.

Jumping into Japanese

Our SY2022-23 Japanese Plus program has begun, and that means intense Japanese classes twice a week. Here are some quick reflections from some of our students about starting out to learn one of the world’s most challenging languages.


So my name is Kayla and I joined my Japanese class almost a month ago and it has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself. Learning Japanese has expanded my intelligence. I don’t only know Spanish but I also am learning Japanese and as a young black lady that is wonderful and my family is very proud. Something that I really like about this class is the diversity. There are many different people trying to learn a new culture and language, that is very beautiful to me. I will continue my classes and I hope to learn so much more with my wonderful teachers and classmates.


I’m a little bit worried about keeping notes and keeping the knowledge I learned in each class in my head. The three alphabets also scare me a bit, especially because of the chance I’ll feel overwhelmed. I’m honestly scared of feeling overwhelmed and falling behind, but I’m excited to see all the amazing things we’ll do in this program, and the amazing and unique people I’ll eventually meet.


With Japanese classes I am surprised on how much we are learning so far. I feel that when we interact with the teachers and other classmates we learn more which I also find very fun. I like it when we talk to each other, because it makes us all feel closer as friends and/or a community. It’s also fun to see other people learn with you.


Since I have started learning Japanese 2 years ago, the beginning lessons are reviews for me. I know the hiragana and katakana alphabet and a few phrases. But, there are still a few phrases that I have learned. For example, “Anoo, onamae-wa?” which means what is your name. I am really excited for future classes for this 2 year program.


I’ve been enjoying the classes so far. I feel like I’ve been keeping up well. I find it interesting how everyone is referred to a different way, depending on your relationship with the person. For example, you would always call your teacher sensei even when you leave school.


I think learning Japanese will help me grow – to try new things. So far I’ve had a nice experience. I’ve met people who have the same interest as me. I think the lessons are just right and if I practice and study, it can really help me.


I’m really enjoying Japanese Plus so far. I’ve studied Japanese before, but never in person, and I find that I’m learning new vocabulary much faster this way. One thing I find challenging is knowing when to use each level of formality, for example  おはよう versus  おはようございます. I’m looking forward to learning more during the next two years.