Kobe Univ. Secondary School Culture Festival

On the 21st, I went to the annual cultural festival of Kobe University Secondary School as part of a group of students invited to have a cultural exchange with the students. I had a wonderful time there, as I was able to experience what a Japanese school is like and it was fascinating to see the different booths and activities each grade had organized. It was clear that the students had put a lot of effort and preparation into the activities/ booths and the fact that the festival lasted three days was very surprising. Kobe University Secondary School is a school which has put in a lot of effort to “globalize” the school by having students participate  in events such as the speech contest, which I had the privilege of participating in and watching their presentation, and International Kids’ Day in which they acted out scenes from High School Musical 1, in english. Additionally, it was a delight to see clubs consisting of people who wanted to actively use english and learn more about the world.

There were student guides who guided us around the countless booths around the school. In efforts to interact with the students, I asked them about certain booths etc.. Throughout my visit to the school, I believe I was able to develop the skills Develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism and intercultural understanding, and Undertake challenges and develop new skills. Visiting a Japanese school which is a very different environment from our school, I was able to learn a bit about their curriculum through their booths, and the unique experiences you can achieve through going to this school. This allowed me to have a better understanding about schools in Japan, which is important for me as a Japanese citizen who despite my nationality, does not have the experience of going to a Japanese school. Regarding the second skill, the guides were not as talkative as desired and thus I had to initiate conversations which took a bit of courage, especially because I did not know them and seemed to be engrossed in their own conversations. However overall, it was an enjoyable experience it would be a delight to visit them again next year. Additionally as a service activity, I believe I deserve 5 points as the visit was from 9:20~14:00.

Sexual Health: Respect, Responsibility and Rights

During the past few weeks, we have bene learning about sexual health, gender, identity and correct decision making etc.. There were many things that I did no know or discovered throughout the lessons but one thing was the wide variety of contraceptives and the advantages and risks that go along with it. I realized that since contraceptives do not guarantee the prevention of pregnancy 100%, it is essential that we understand and keep in the mind the possible consequences when engaging in any sexual activity. I felt really frustrated when I heard about cases in which a transgender person in the army had to conceal the fact that he was transgender because if disclosed, he would be kicked out of the army.  However, eventually, he was able to embrace his identity as a man and not be forced to wear attire for women at formal ceremonies etc., which I believe is a great step towards accepting people who are transgender, queer or unsure of their identity.

Something I have found out about myself is that I did not know much about the other sex regarding anatomy and facts surrounding that matter, and I believe that I gained knowledge, which I had lacked previously which is essential when it comes to having a partner to have more understanding towards my male counterpart, in a relationship etc.. I learn best when presented with visuals, because it retains my attention and it is easier for me to take in information especially when the matter we are discussing is sensitive like this topic.

I believe our society is becoming more and more understanding regarding people of different identities. For example, the United States has been making many efforts to spread awareness and be understanding of people with different identities. However, many Asian countries like Japan and Korea are not so “upright” about this issue perhaps because we care so much about what other people think or view us rather than our own happiness, or we as a society still don’t have much understanding regarding this matter and thus not be able to speak up. I strongly admire ex pres. Barack Obama for taking strong action regarding this matter in the shape of legalizing same sex marriage, which has given hope to so many people and inspired many others and I believe we should follow him as an example and change the old views that still remain in this society.

I am angered by some people who are thoughtless and insensitive, who choose to believe that they are right and they have the right to intervene with someone’s life/ decision and make rude or hurtful comments. I understand that they may have different opinions regarding a certain matter but this is no excuse for pulling down someone by making hurtful comments and they should be willing to accept different views. While discussing, it was interesting to hear what my friends thought about relationships and consent and what they would do in certain situations.

Currently, same-sex marriage is not permitted and there is no serios discussion among Japanese policymakers regarding same-sex marriage. I am interested in pursuing a career related to law so in the future, I’d perhaps want to to contribute to making Japan a more welcoming and comfortable environment for people by encouraging change or spread awareness regarding this matter. Throughout this unit, I have learnt more about the wide variety of sexuality and the importance of correct decision-making when in a relationship etc.

HS Spring Concert

Last Wednesday, the Spring Concert was held in the auditorium. The theme was “Blossoming Strings” for HS orchestra, and included classic pieces as well as jazz pieces. I believe the concert went well and we were able to play well as a group. I especially liked this concert as playing as a symphony orchestra was always something I wanted from when I was in 6th grade.

The repertoire started off with Brandenburg Concerto, a classical piece which I think the ensemble performed best, because we had especially worked on keeping a stable rhythm as a group and keeping together. As always, we tend to rush because we do not listen enough to other sections because we are so preoccupied with the music in front us. However, I believe that we were able to improve a lot throughout our practice.

Personally, I think I performed best in Bacchanale. As I was given the music about a week before the performance, I did not have much time to rehearse with the group so I had to depend on the recording and practice by myself. I was slightly apprehensive about this piece not only because I didn’t have much practice but also because the castanet was such a crucial part, setting the rhythm for the entire piece and I knew that I had to pay attention at all times and ensure that my counting was accurate, so as not to mess up and confuse the others. In the video, it seems as if I am unsure and playing randomly, but I payed attention at all times, counting accurately and listening to certain parts where some instruments enter, which I had previously noted down during rehearsal and I believe I was able to play confidently and without mistakes. I was also relieved to hear from my brother, who is dead honest, that my part stood out a lot and that it matched with the other sections.

Concerto for Timpani was most technically challenging because our part often included notes that were in a rather high range, which we as whole did not have much practice in, and good intonation was essential. We also had to ensure that we were listening to other parts because the melody would often alternate within the different sections.

A String of Pearls, although was not one of the pieces that I had performed best, was my favourite because I am focusing on jazz improv for this unit and I was able to listen to fellow students doing improv for a few measures, as opposed to professional jazz artists. Before the concert, I had listened to the original song, played by Glenn Miller Orchestra and there was a lot of swing to the song, which us amateurs can never exactly imitate as we are perhaps afraid of being flexible regarding rhythm because we often play pieces that have a set rhythm, but it is for sure one of the characteristics of the song which I love so much. I also loved how the trumpeter’s improv was so simple, without complicated rhythms and simply using the scale yet so put together.

Making Service Videos

A few weeks ago, I made videos regarding service at CA, including videos explaining the procedure for registration and set up when using CA helper, Service Helper and how to create a service blog post, in hopes of helping students understand the significance of service and how to reflect on their experiences and document them. I think I contributed to the community by promoting service and helping those who are not quite familiar with using the updated CA helper. Throughout making the videos, I believe I developed two MYP Service Learning Outcomes; Undertake challenges and develop new skills, and Persevere in Action. I believe that I demonstrated the qualities “Use talents and interest to positively impact the community and the wider world”, and “Plan to learn and practice challenging new skills through the project”. Using my experience as a service leader for the third year this year and my strong wish to share the significance of service with fellow students, I created the videos, hopefully positively impacting the community and the wider world. It was my first time creating a tutorial and therefore, it was a new skill I developed and a challenge because it was essential for me to communicate clearly and efficiently a big concept; service in the limited amount of time. I also developed the MYP Service Learning Outcome of persevering in action through demonstrating the qualities “Demonstrate persistence and perseverance in action and encourage this in others”, and “Maintain motivation of self and others through difficulty”. Although making a tutorials doesn’t seem very challenging, it is very time-consuming as it requires a lot of takes. Technically, I can just cut the clip if  I make a mistake and resume the talking in another clip but that would make the quality of the video worse. Therefore in order to maintain the quality of the video, I had to retake countless amounts of times before filming perfectly from start to finish. This procedure and editing combined was very tedious and time-consuming and I did this for 3 videos, which I must say made me pretty much drained. However, I tried to maintain motivation throughout the process and persevere. I believe I deserve 15 points for creating the videos.

Click here to watch the video tutorials

ACCJ Kansai Walkathon 2016

On October 15th, the annual ACCJ Kansai Walkathon was held at Canadian Academy. The ACCJ, short for The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan is an organization that furthers the development of commerce between the USA and Japan, promotes the interests of U.S. companies and members, and improves the international business environment in Japan. The theme of this year’s event was “Better Workplace, Better Life for working mothers in need”, and the objective of the walkathon was to raise awareness of the many organizations, working to support women in the workforce. This year, I was given the honor of MCing the event alongside Mr. Nathan Bryan.

The event started off with Nathan and I briefly explaining the background and purpose of the event. I thought I would be a bit nervous but strangely, I felt very confident and excited and I believe this was partially because Nathan was such an outgoing and kind person, making me feel reassured and just very happy in general. Next was the opening ceremony in which key individuals, representatives for sponsoring companies, ACCJ BOG members and guests said a few words. There was a brief photo session and I was surprised and honored to find myself standing next to Mr. Schatzky amongst the VIPs, despite being merely the assistant MC.

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After a brief explanation of the raffles tickets, prizes and food tickets, we did a warm-up prior to the walk/ run called the Baby Run. BabyRun is Japan’s first and only exercise program using a stroller and they offer lessons with free rental of strollers and outfits. It is such an innovative idea and it was such a cool experience stretching to the two ladies exercising with the strollers.

While the parctipants walked or ran the course, there were a wide variety of stage events including dance, orchestral, jump rope and choral performances. They were all very entertaining and impressive, and the dance performances were especially eye-catching. There were many food booths with a wide variety of dishes and the prizes for the raffles and silent auctions were quite impressive. The closing ceremony consisted of a few speeches and thank-yous.

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It was a very hectic day and it was a bit tiring I must say, but I had a lot of fun. Through helping out at this event, I believe I was able to contribute to the community by helping out at the walkathon, in hopes of raising awareness of the many organizations, working to support working mothers in need. I believe I developed two MYP Service Learning Outcomes throughout this event; Become more aware of our strengths and areas for growth, and Work Collaboratively with others. I believe I demonstrated the qualities “Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses” and “Embrace personal limitations and external obstacles as opportunities for meaningful learning”. Throughout the event, there were many unscheduled changes of the order of events, forcing me to adjust to the situation quickly and improvise on my speech/ announcements instead of following and reading the script which I’m afraid I’m not too good at. I am a perfectionist and sometimes, unexpected changes make me feel unsettled and unsure so at times, Nathan had to cover for me which I was very grateful but apologize for. I was impressed by Nathan’s skill to adjust accordingly with speed and improvise with confidence, and I wish to work on overcoming my inner perfectionist and get used to being more carefree and spontaneous. I think I also developed the MYP service learning outcome of working collaboratively with others through demonstrating the quality “Take responsibility for own actions as part of the group and offers support for others”. Nathan being the MC and I being assistant MC, teamwork was essential in order to make the event flow smoothly and whenever I had doubts or anything that I was unsure of, I made sure to check with Nathan and communicate clearly so there were no possible misunderstandings between us. I believe teamwork was key because it was very important for Nathan and I to be responsible and ensure that the event flowed smoothly as we were the MCs. As well as taking responsibility and doing my job as well as I could, I tried to support him as the assistant MC although it was more of him making sure I felt confident and at ease, which was very thoughtful of him and making it less pressuring and more enjoyable. It was a great honor for me to be able to contribute in supporting such a wonderful cause and a great opportunity to contribute to the community but this would not have been a reality if I had not received help from Nathan, Dan, and Ms. Nishizawa so I would like to thank them. Additionally, thank you to all who contributed in making this event a success including the stage crew.  Finally, I worked from 9:00am~5:00pm, so I believe I deserve 8 service points.

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Kibou no Mori (Summer Service)

On August 17th, I participated in the Kibou no Mori activity along with 3 other eco club members; two 8th graders and one 6th grader. We hiked up the mountain and cut weeds that were growing around the trees. It was the middle of summer and the weeds were growing very fast. We had to cut a large amount of the weeds, to prevent it from hindering the growth of the sakura trees we had planted earlier in the year, and ensure that it received enough sunlight. I was very happy to see that the trees we had planted ourselves were growing more sturdier and taller as months passed. I believe we contributed to the environment by helping the growth of the trees, which prevent landslides and most importantly, create oxygen which we cannot live without. I believe we also contributed to the community by maintaining the beautiful scenery of the mountain for the hikers. I believe I developed two MYP Service Learning Outcomes through this activity; Persevere in action, and Work collaboratively with others. I believe that I demonstrated the quality “Demonstrate persistence and perseverance in action and encourage this in others”, as despite the scorching weather and countless bugs that surrounded us which I severely disliked, I understood that as the only 9th grader, I should be setting an example as a role model, and persevered in my efforts to cut as many weeds as possible and encourage others to do the same through my actions. I also endeavored to “Maintain motivation of self and others through difficulty” by maintaining a positive attitude, and not complaining and smiling instead. I believe I developed the MYP Service Learning Outcome of working collaboratively with others as well, through demonstrating the quality “Take responsibility for own actions as part of the group and offers support for others.”, by ensuring that I fulfilled my duty of cutting as many weeds as I can in the limited amount of time. I think I could’ve worked on offering more support for my fellow eco club members by overcoming my timidness and conversing a bit more. Otherwise, I think I developed a lot mentally and it was a great opportunity to exercise my leadership and contribute to the environment and community. As I worked from 12:30~3:30, I believe I deserve 3 service points.img_5012

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