Deerfield Beach High School
Pompeno Beach, FL
It has been nearly a month since I have gotten back from Japan, from riding a bike at night, and eating horrible institute food. From the time I have gotten back, I have done nothing but write boring essays, read almost interesting books for school, conduct project meetings that were probably unnecessary. Basicly I have spent the last month slipping into my old schedule. But even so, sometime when I close my eyes I can feel the rocky unsteady footing of the beach near the Kansai Institute, where we stayed at for the majority of the trip. Other times when I have a hard time falling asleep I can see the phantom of the amazing view I had from my dorm window reflected in my balcony. I can remember the strong winds and drenching rain on my skin from when a few friends and I decided to go to a book store during a typhoon for who knows what reason each time it rains here in Florida. I can even remember the taste of roasted tea ice cream that my host sister Sena shared with me. And being haunted by the ghost of Hotel Boyo with a few friends was exciting. I have so many memories from those two short weeks I spent in Japan with JET-MIP, memories I know I will treasure my entire life.
When I first applied to JET-MIP it was not because I wanted to become a JET member. I was genuinely intrigued by the post 3/11 tsunami and earthquake situation and felt remorse over the deaths of the two JETs ,Tayler Anderson and Montgomery Dickson. The reason I applied for this program was because I wanted to better myself, in my Japanese studies and gain a bit of self confidence. Honestly right now I can't say that I gained so much self confidence that it is dazzling to even think about. But I can say that the JET Memorial Invitation Program has given me the opportunity to see a side of Japan that I would have never known about if I kept my nose stuck in a musty old text book, or even going to tour Kyoto. During our trips to the Tohoku region, I was able to meet people such as business owners, and even high school students, who were hit by the tsunami and earthquake. Some kind enough to tell their story of what happened to them during this disaster, stories that would leave a person depressed for years. But what surprised me was that most did not want to talk about the events of the disaster; not because they still grieve over the events. But because they were ready to move on and look towards the future. Rather than speak about the house or job they lost, they would speak about the company their father recently made, or what they have planned for their future. This is the side of Japan I would have never seen through a textbook, or by going to tourist destinations had I not experienced JET-MIP. Also, had I not experienced JET-MIP, I would have never had the opportunity to make the wonderful friends I have in Japan now. With such experiences, I know now that I don't simply just want to continue my Japanese studies as I enter a University next year. I want to constantly use my Japanese skills beyond the reaches of my classes. Perhaps one day be payed for knowing Japanese. Although that is still a unformed dream, because right now I struggle to read my host sisters text messages. To many unknown kanji!
Although, I highly doubt that stopped anyone. Where as I struggle with reading my host sister's messages, I never had a problem understanding them. I remember my host family took me shopping at one of Osaka’s malls, and they were constantly asking me if there was anything I wanted to see, or was interested in. Unfortunately, I was barely able to take the sights in because I have never really been to a city before. But, I wanted to find a birthday present for a friend of mine, and my host family was kind enough to assist me. While I was looking at several stores at the mall, which spawned at least seven streets, I was shocked by how expensive cloths were in Japan in comparison to the malls near my house in Florida. My host sister Sena told me it was because people do not buy the clothing but the brand. I was shocked, I did not think clothing’s brand was more important than the clothing itself. To illustrate why I was so shocked, I asked my host sister how much they thought my pants coast. A simple black pair of slacks, my host mother though it cost 80 dollars. Imagine the shock when I told her probably cost no more than 25 dollars. I suppose this blaber about a small clothing experience may mean nothing to you, but for me and my host family we learned something about each other’s cultures in an unexpected way. I learned to bring a lot of money if I plan to shop for cloths in Japan, and my host family learned that Victoria Secret and Persices are the most expensive artifact to clothing in America.
Unfortunately it seems that I must conclude, I would like to let Tayler Anderson and Montgomery Dickson to know that JET-MIP, a program founded in their honor has allowed us have this wonderful experience that I would otherwise probably have never had the opportunity experience. Because of JET-MIP I was able to make wonderful friends, most of them Japanese, one of them from Denmark. I was able to see a side to Japan I normally would not have. And because of this program I was able to take chances in speaking Japanese that I would have never dreamt of doing in class, in fear of failure. So I would simply like to thank Tayler Anderson and Montgomery Dickson and the JET-MIP coordinators for allowing me to participate in this program. I hope that this program will continue on in the future, not necessary in the same form, and allow other students to have this experience as well.
“Osaka from the tower garden”
When people think of Japan they think of anime, and samurais. I chose this picture because it shows that Japan's cities are filled with more than idol animations and Oda Nobunaga; to show that the Japanese city is as much a mystery an any old anime.