Yesterday was the personal day for the World Campus Japan class, and unfortunately the heavy rain did not seem to want to stop. It caused many delays and trains to stop driving. Luckily there was still quite a lot to do and we all had fun and arrived back to our host families safely.
The rain however caused our plans for today, the 7th of July, and also the day of the Tanabata festival, to be changed for the most part. The plan was to visit a museum and university, but due to the heavy and constant rain, we could not go. Thankfully our lovely World Campus staff and counsellors came up with a solution, we were to spend the day doing various activities at Mai Theater.
We started off as usual with going over the schedule and explaining the changes in this case. We were joined by some of the host families aswell in the morning which was very fun. First we were divided into 2 groups so each group could go into a room to do an activity and afterwards switch rooms and also activities.
The 2 morning activities were ‘Shoudo’ (Japanese calligraphy) and writing wishes and making origami for the Tanabata festival. The group I was in, started with the Tanabata activities. First, we wrote 2 wishes each to hang in a bamboo tree for Tanabata. I wished to come back to Japan someday again, and for my Japanese to improve. After hanging the wishes up, we moved on to the origami. I love origami but don’t always have the time for it, so it was fun to pick it up again. We learned how to make a 4-pointed shuriken by Kengo, one of the volunteers of the LOC. It was quite funny to watch everyone, including me, struggle with the last step but in the end we all made our shuriken. After that, the children of one of the host families that were present, taught us how to make an origami heart. They were very good teachers and we could easily follow along!
I made a functional ‘beating’- heart out of paper aswell, which Kengo was very excited about. I ended up teaching him how to make it during our lunchtime. He tried his best, but I think he used the wrong paper, so he had a slightly broken heart.
Then came Shoudo. Our sensei was very kind and patient in explaining and individually correcting the Kanji we wrote. We wrote the Kanji for mountain (‘yama’) and river (‘gawa’), aswell as learning how to write our own names as Kanji. At the cultural fair the day before, we could ask how our name would be written with Kanji. For those that still remembered those Kanji or brought it, they showed how the stroke order works. For those without a Kanji-version of their name yet, they quickly thought it over and provided one.
Shoudo was difficult, but it was very satisfying when you finally received the ‘ok’ from Sensei, which was an orange coloured spiral she would draw over your well-drawn Kanji. We were of course allowed to take home all of the things we made and drew/wrote.
Lunch came around and we were surprised with quite some options, I personally had sushi, but I saw some eat a rice dish and even omurice. During this lunch hour, I made an 8-pointed shuriken that turns into a Frisbee, which I gifted to Rina, one of the volunteers. Rina, Kengo, and I chatted for a while and exchanged information, after which I attempted to teach Kengo how to make the paper heart I mentioned earlier.
After lunch we had a variety of games in store for us, provided and guided by Yui. We played name games to learn to remember each other’s names easier, aswell as funny ice-breaking games to get to know each other better and become closer.
We ended up playing a game called ‘Take your stand’. The point of the game was to share opinions with each other, without interrupting each other and to expand each other’s horizons. The questions that divided us ranged from, ‘Which do you like better, Pepsi or Coca-Cola?’ to more serious questions such as, ‘Do you think diversity is positive or negative?’. You had to stand on the side of the room corresponding to your opinion and then if you received Yui’s permission (in the form of a ball being thrown at you), you were allowed to voice that opinion.
We discussed a lot but everyone remained respectful and friendly, which was very nice to see. I am glad this group can get along so well and that games like these are in the program. I almost dare say, maybe it wasn’t a bad thing that the schedule changed. In the end it led to healthy discussions, friendships being formed or further expanded, and a group of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and with different opinions becoming closer.
We ended this interesting and fun day with a wrap-up meeting discussing the schedule for Monday. Long after arriving home to my host family, I kept replaying today in my mind, with a smile on my face. I think today was a success, despite previous setbacks and elemental struggles. Thank you to the counsellors, World Campus Japan staff and collaborators and everyone involved really. I made the right decision applying to join this group, and I am extremely happy that I was accepted and am meeting so many interesting people.
This was a glimpse into one of my and our days in Suita, Japan. There aren’t enough words to fully explain all I experienced but I hope this message still comes across quite well.