Rakiya’s KAKEHASHI Reflection

By Rakiya Washington (Japanese Plus)

My experience traveling to Japan through Globalize DC’s Kakehashi program was the most exciting and motivating experience that I have had while being in the Japanese Plus Program. Not only was this the longest travel experience I’ve had, but it was also the first time I had traveled by plane. I am glad that I was able to kill two birds with one stone and travel to a country that I have always desired to go to. During our trip to Japan, I had the opportunity to travel to several areas of Japan, including; Tokyo, Akihabara, Gifu prefecture and Harajuku. If were to choose my favorite places out of those I visited, I would have to choose Gifu and Harajuku, because they had very different atmospheres and made me feel more connected to Japan.

Gifu prefecture is where I stayed with my host family, and for me, this experience was the most sentimental and meaningful event in the entire trip. My host family consisted of a Grandmother, Grandfather, their son, daughter-in-law, and their two young children. I really enjoyed the two days that I experienced with them as we travelled to various places, such as Inuyama Castle, a ramen restaurant, a mall, and a temple/shrine. Inuyama Castle was a beautiful experience as I was glad to take pictures of the amazing view from the top of the castle. I’m not usually one who takes photos; I’d rather live in the moment; however, this trip pushed me to start taking more pictures, which was actually really fun.

After going to Inuyama Castle with my host family and another host family with Bryson and Asa, we all went to a ramen restaurant where I enjoyed some delicious simple ramen. Then we were able to meet again with Bryson and Asa to go to a huge mall for about an 1 hour, which I really enjoyed, since I love to shop. However, it was not as enjoyable, since I forgot my wallet, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed my time there and would love to go again. Then we went home and tried on traditional kimonos and played “Pick-up priest.” Although we were only there for two days, I was developing a great relationship with my host family, and it caused me to feel such sadness to say farewell. But, going to Harajuku made up for that sad event. Harajuku is a famous shopping area in Japan and I was excited to go and spend my money. I was so happy with the purchases that I made and I will definitely be returning sometime in the near future.

Overall, my experience in Japan was something that I will cherish for the rest of my life as it is only the beginning of a journey to getting to know Japan more deeply. Throughout my college experience, I will be studying abroad in both Japan and South Korea, as well as taking courses to study the language. I am so excited to see what other opportunities will be opened to me that will allow me to love Japanese culture even more.

Gun Policies: Japan vs the United States

By Rakiya Washington

Being a member of the Japanese Plus Program is not limited to learning Japanese language. This membership gives me access to the history, as well as current events pertaining to Japan. For instance, one of the several articles that we discussed concerned the issue of gun policies, and the difference between Japan and the United States, in that regard. By reading this article, it became quite apparent that the adjectives used to describe Japan, such as safe and welcoming, were extremely appropriate. During the publication date of the article, there was a massive shooting in a Texan church. This major event brought to light the issues with our gun policy laws and how they are far more liberal than Japan’s. In order to receive a gun license in Japan, a thorough investigation of the individual’s mental and behavioral background is performed, while in the United States, a gun could be bought at a local Walmart. In the article, the writer included a great analogy that I enjoyed, “Buying a gun in the United States is as easy as it is to buy chopsticks in Japan,” and I think that this comparison really displays how the United States is more careless with who has possession of a gun. Japan’s mental evaluation of each candidate should be pushed in the United States, because almost every time there is a major shooting, the suspect is described as mentally ill; therefore, in order to prevent this issue, further evaluation should be performed for each candidate. I really enjoyed learning about this topic because it is so relevant within today’s society and it broadens my knowledge about Japanese culture. I cannot wait to learn about more things like this!


Rakiya’s Photo

In this picture, Skyy Genies and Chidera Onyeka are presenting a short skit. The short skit focuses on invitations, as well as the months and days in Japanese. This photo symbolizes our hard work as Japanese students who dedicate our time and efforts into learning and making progress through this program. Although performing skits is not my favorite thing to do, I continue to be appreciative because they aid me to become better with speaking Japanese.

Rakiya Washington

Kennedy Center Experience

Kennedy Center Japanese Connections

By Rakiya Washington

On Wednesday, October 18, 2017, I had the great opportunity to watch Koto Player, Yumi Kurosawa, and So You Think You Can Dance dancer, Virgil Gadson, perform together for the first time. While watching the duet, I was in tears as the beautiful Koto playing and the breathtaking, skillful dance meshed together perfectly. Since I had never experienced something like this before, I was simply stunned with the amount of skill and technical competence that both performers inhabited. I have always been a fanatic for great music and beautiful dance, yet this experience has made me love both so much more than I have ever before, and I would love to have the opportunity to watch something as breathtaking as this was again.

Creating a Keiretsu

By Rakiya Washington

When reading chapter 5 in the wonderful Geek in Japan, provided by the Japanese Plus Program, the most interesting topic that I learned about was pertaining to how the Japanese create a keiretsu in business. I thought this was interesting because it reminded me of other partnerships that had similar obligations, such as the League of Nations and the United Nations. They seemed related to me because in the passage, the keiretsu was an alliance that was responsible for the economic success of other businesses and similarly, the League of Nations and United Nations were created in order to create equal opportunity for success for each country involved. Another similarity that I noticed was how the United States was involved in both. In Japan, the United States’s role was to aid the MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) control the entire Japanese industry and similarly, the United States played a leading role in the United Nations.

I am glad I was able to learn about something like this and without this program, I would not have been as knowledgeable on topics like this. I enjoy learning new things about Japanese culture and their daily lives.

My Tidal Basin Experience

Rakiya Washington

Outside of being in the classroom for the two scheduled days of the week, we have organized and participated in various outings around the city. One of the most memorable experiences for me was when we visited the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms. Although we did not see as many cherry blossoms as we expected due to the weather changes, we did not cease to explore farther in the area. We walked to various other nearby memorials and monuments, such as the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. I was extremely excited although to see the memorials, since I had never seen them before; but also because it was disappointing to see how many lives were lost during such violent events. Visiting these memorials, not only expanded my knowledge of wars in general, but it allowed me to understand how important the lives of others are and to be grateful for everything and everyone you have because they could be taken from you at anytime. I am glad I am in a program that allows me to explore and learn about such things. I could not have been happier with the experience.

Face masks in Japan

By Rakiya Washington

While reading Geek in Japan, which is a book written by Hector Garcia, I have learned so many things about Japanese culture and their language. But one interesting piece that stood out for me were face masks worn in Japan. I have always seen Japanese, Chinese and Koreans wearing these and I always wondered what they were used for. I’ve learned that in Japan, face masks are worn commonly either to avoid contagion of a cold or to avoid pollen. This is why its use increases during spring. The pollen is called kafunsho. It is one of the greatest major threats in Japan. It comes from trees built after the destruction of World War II and trees imported from other places. Also, due to Global Warming, the presence of pollen has increased dramatically. I just hope that they find new ways to contain the pollen.

Okayama University

By Rakiya Washington

On January 28 my Japanese program was able to receive a presentation about Okayama University and its Discovery Program. I learned about the extremely lenient tuition and room and board fees and how international students are already eligible for the scholarship provided by the Discovery program. I really enjoyed the university’s atmosphere and environment. I also appreciated how considerate they were with accepting students. The acceptance to the college is not strict at all and they keep your GPA out of their choosing process because they want to give everyone a fair chance. I just thought that was so caring and sympathetic, which is why I have decided that I would start to look at this college and other colleges in Japan. The presentation really pushed me to research about more of what’s available in my country, but also internationally.

Stouder-Sensei’s Visit

By Rakiya Washington

stouderWhile in the Japanese Plus Program, I have been informed by multiple presentations by various visitors. One of the most interesting visits was Stouder-Sensei’s visit. She was a foreign language teacher from Washington Latin who spoke of how she learned Japanese and the struggles she went through. Most importantly, she provided us with tips on how she overcame obstacles with learning Japanese and the determination she applied to her desire of learning Japanese.

She told us that since she was born in a place without much diversity, she was not exposed to other cultures, but when she learned about other cultures, she wanted to connect more by learning the language. When she traveled to Japan herself, she was able to adapt to the Japanese culture and way of thinking. For example, she explained how in Japan she was considered a “giant,” but in America she was average size. Her story just pushed me to be even more interested in Japan and it also made me desire traveling to Japan in order to experience the things she had. I really like Japan and its culture and I would love to be able to become semi-fluent in Japanese and immerse myself in the culture physically.