Nothing makes someone (at least me) more nervous than speaking to a bunch of high schoolers who are truly passionate about a certain subject. My only explanation for my nervousness is simply, I do not want to disappoint his or her expectation of what is about to come out of my mouth. Well, I quickly came to realize my nervousness was just all in my head.
Four others students and I went to Chukyo University’s high school branch for an after club activity with the English club. Despite already having English as a requirement class, these students were those who enjoy English so much they would join an after school club dedicated to speaking, reading, and writing in English. Now that is what I call passion! Adding on to the pressure of speaking in a more mature manner was the admiration these students had for foreigners. Not sure if this was my imagination or not, but from the moment we walked into the room there was a sense of respect placed upon us. Personally, age is but a number and respect should be given to someone who has earned it. While I did feel honored, we the five exchange students, should have been placed on the same level rather than above the students. Because of this honor system, speaking to the students was a bit awkward since many of them seemed to notice the social gap. However, once we were able to speak more and show the students our human side, one by one they began speaking and interacted more through questions and answers.
After an hour or so of talking, we moved on to a tea ceremony presented by the Sado club. For more information on what sado is please refer to this link, http://www.japan-zone.com/culture/sado.shtml .
The young females in this club presented us a lovely ceremony and demonstrated how gracefulness is possible through anyone. Afterwards, we were given a tour around the high school and of its various after school activities. Chukyo’s high school gives its students’ the opportunity to enjoy activities such as: baseball, kyudo(Japanese archery), dance, volleyball, cheerleading, sado, judo, band, and much more.
There was one in particular which I was interested in and that was kyudo. Kyūdō, 弓道, way of the bow, is the traditional name for Japanese archery. The only thing I knew about this sport was, unlike archery in America, the bow was a bit larger and there was a deeper meaning behind its unique style. The art of kyūdō was incredible because behind each movement was a reasoning for its specific positioning and timing. Believe it or not, there is a set of outline which you must follow before shooting the arrow; each phase also has a name and missing one step could make for a dire mistake. For a further increase read into this incredible sport, please refer to this reading, http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/CriticalZen/The_Myth_of_Zen_in_the_Art_of_Archery.pdf
I was glad to be a part of this day because the experience gave me a different image of a high school student in Japan. Yes, there were students in this club who joined just so this would look good on paper; however, there were those who joined because of their passion for learning. Unfortunately for most of these students they do not have many opportunities to speak with native English speakers. According to a few professors in both high school and college, the students’ curriculum focuses more on the reading and writing aspect rather than improving their speaking skills. I understand this is not entirely the school’s fault but more could be done to better help the students. For example, teachers could hold another meeting like this one, and instead of once a semester they could hold one once a week. Perhaps this is being implemented into other schools around Japan, and if it is, good job for those schools.
To the students back at Chukyo High School, 頑張ってください！Good luck with your studies and continue studying English. While the road is difficult, your effort will pay off but you must take the initiative to keep doing your best. Until next time ~