The Meaning of Cherry Blossoms

By Shawma Brown

I never really cared for cherry blossoms, they were just trees I walked past everyday on my way to school. I always thought they were lovely, but I didn’t care for them because I had no idea what they symbolized. It was until I saw a film, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, that made me care for Cherry Blossoms and what they stand for.

The film showed what cherry blossom trees meant to the Japanese. The tsunami that happen in Japan on March 11, 2011 was very devastating. Many people died, went missing, were injured, and lost their homes. After the tsunami happened the Japanese were crushed. It was the cherry blossoms that gave them hope. A cherry blossom lasts for a short period of time then falls off the tree. I think cherry blossoms symbolize that life is beautiful but short. Ever since I knew what cherry blossoms symbolize I haven’t taken them for granted. I always stop when I see a cherry blossom tree and admire their beauty.

Striking up a Conversation

By Shawma Brown

We were in Z-burger having lunch when the instructor told us to mix it up a little bit with the Japanese students from Meiji University. I sat at a table with four Japanese students. I just sat there exchanging awkward looks with them. It was awkward to be surrounded by people I didn’t know and that were from another country. The word that kept popping in my head was socially awkward. That is what I was being. I had so many questions I wanted to ask but I was very nervous. It was not until three of the students left that I was able to talk. Me and one of the students started conversating. He asked me why I was holding back from talking. I said I was just nervous.

I was glad to have conversated with him, because I was grateful for every single moment of the conversation. We started talking about food, education, American and Japanese society in general. The most intriguing part of the conversation was how he told me how Japanese see Americans. He said they talk too much. That made me laugh. I then said why do we seem to talk too much. He said we talk to strangers and we have no boundaries. I was just astonished because this was true, whether I would like to admit it or not.

Trying New Foods

By Shawma Brown

I never understood why people eat foods that they never tasted before. I do eat foods that are new to me but they’re mostly American food. Trying food from another culture always intrigued me. Going to a Japanese restaurant and trying miso soup for the first time was magnificent. As soon as I put a spoon full of the soup in my mouth an unreadable look appeared on my face. The words “OH MY GOD” had slipped out my mouth. Eshita Sensei and Layana had looked at me with a concerning facial expression. They asked me what was wrong? There was nothing wrong with me; it was just me admiring the miso soup. Like I never had tasted soup that was so good. To many people this may seem like not a big deal, but it was for me because food is my soulmate. If you’re ever wondering what I ‘m thinking about, it’s always food because food is an obsession for me. I plan to go back to that restaurant and have miso soup again.

Eating red bean ice cream for the first time was weird. First of all the idea of ice cream being made out of beans sounds utterly ridiculous. Usually I’m not a picky eater but I turned into one real quick. I have always gotten the same ice cream flavor all my life – vanilla. Trying a new ice cream flavor was heartbreaking for me because I was betraying my first love, vanilla. I got over my heartbreak fast. The red bean ice cream was so good. I just couldn’t get over the texture. There you go, I was being picky about food for the first time. The texture of the ice cream was so weird but the taste was exquisite. The miso soup and the red bean ice cream was my favorite part of the restaurant.

Stepping into another world

By Shawma Brown

Imagine stepping into a world that made you uncomfortable, but excited at the same time. That is the only way I can describe my visit to the Japanese Embassy. I never experienced another culture upfront. I was extremely nervous. I literally felt butterflies in my stomach. Ms. Sally assured me that there was nothing to be nervous about.

When we first got there all you could see was officers in their uniforms with their wives. Everyone was dressed so elegantly. I felt like an oddball, as the only person with jeans on. It reminded me of the fairytale “Cinderella.” The part in the story where Cinderella goes to the ball and sees all people dressed so gracefully. It was like a more modern ball. I paid attention to Japanese people’s interaction, which was so formal.

The food looked really weird but it was so good. I think my favorite dish was the tempura. I met many Japanese people. I even got to use some of my Japanese I had learned. I interacted with many military officers from all over the world. The thing that struck my attention was how the military officers from different countries had ties with Japan.

I learned about the ties between Japan and the United States. After World War 2 the Japanese no longer had a military. Now the US is aiding the Japanese as if they were their military. Even though the US and Japan had a rocky start, it led to them becoming really good friends.