Sunday, September 15, 2013

An interesting experience of a Japanese American in Japan

A fun fact about being a Japanese American in Japan is that nobody seems to believe that I am actually of Japanese descent. 

Today in an english class for 6th graders I was helping out in, I gave a self introduction.  I told the class "Hello, I am Derek Yamashita from America.  I am Japanese but was born and raised in California."  Then when a girl was asked to repeat what I said, she said "He is Derek Yamashita, he is half American, and half Japanese, he is from California."  

This was a great example of how many people I have met in Japan have trouble comprehending the concept of an American of Japanese descent.  They almost always assume that I am only part Japanese and never guess that I am full Japanese. This doesnt bother me at all, but I find it very interesting and humorous at times.

More details about the program:

Back when I was fundraising for Tohoku relief after the March 11th disasters, I was introduced to Jon Abbott, a teacher working in Japan who was also involved in relief operations.  Since then we have kept in touch and now live only a few stations apart here in Tokyo.  Jon has given me tours of parts of Tokyo, introduced me to many people and most recently invited to me to come help teach English at a UNESCO summer camp program!  He's been a massive help to my assimilation here in Tokyo. 

Jon Abbott (the man in the white shirt). 

Booklets and CDs given to the students

The class I helped teach was pretty small.  We practiced self introductions and played word games that required the students to converse with me for clues and to find the answers.  

Some of the kids in the room were very shy and would be very unwilling to speak in front of the class.  In private 1-1 conversation however, they could speak english fairly well.  

After teaching in the smaller class, all of the students returned to a lecture hall where a graduate student from Kenya gave a presentation about her country to the students.

Oh and did I mention she gave her presentation in Japanese?
Pretty good Japanese too!

It was a great presentation and the students really loved it!  

They even practiced songs and dancing!  
This program provides these students with an amazing opportunity to see
the rich diversity of global culture.  I was very happy to have been able to
take part in this program and will be volunteering with this group in the future!

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