Japan-the land of dense population and a strong group culture. The land of 4 a.m. sunrises. The land of miniskirts and polka dotted hosiery.
This is where I spent two weeks in Tokyo's district of Noborito working with students at Senshu University, where most study business and economics.
I said before that I would be a teaching assistant, but that term can be loosely interpreted. As with all things, I have learned to spend my days here with no expectations.
I actually spent lunch periods at the university with random students doing one very simple thing -- speaking to them in English.
In Japan, students are required to study two foreign languages, with English and Chinese deemed the most useful.
Most students at Senshu speak very limited English, but striking up a conversation was simple, as I was very well received as an American.
My "lessons," or basic conversation, with students involved finding common grounds, which usually consisted of popular culture. Favorite topics of the students include One Direction, Taylor Swift, Harry Potter and Disney World.
The Japanese students strive to impress and connect with Westerners. They are humble, and they made me feel as if every single thing I said was wildly important. I tried my best to reciprocate.
Students Daichi Kobayashi and Futaba Ikeya are some of the most advanced, and working with them had a way of making me think more about my native language, like when we found ourselves explaining to Kobayashi the difference between "planning" and "scheming" and discussing high-fives with Ikeya.
Although Tokyo is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it is known for being a lonely culture. While the youth are surrounded by their friends, it turns out that they do not have many personal conversations. The way students interact culturally is a far cry from the self-obsessed talk from America.
Stay tuned for more stories about the cultural climate in Japan. So much more grounds to cover!
|With students Yuki Kimura, Misaki Matsuda, Maki Abe, Futaba Ikeya and Maya Momose at Senshu Univeristy. Southeastern University volunteer Gabby Valentin is between me and Yuki.|
|With Ririka Ogawa at Senshu University|