By The End, Reflection

After coming back to our daily lives, going to school, being able to understand what people say on the street, living according to western cultures, and eating “normal” food, I now realize how amazing was our two week experience on Japan. Having a time off from classes and homework feels nice, but witness in a country with complete different values on the other side of the world is indescribable. It was one of my best high school experiences, and I will take the knowledge I got from it for the rest of my life.

It was more than just doing our project on finding sustainable environment traits around our tour, there I was able to see in first hand how people act in everyday lives as well as tasting their delicious food everyday, sometimes even too much. Different from any kind of people I saw before, the Japanese are polite and respectful, for someone who came from Brazil, where people are more agitated, the difference is clear. My final project couldn’t reflect my entire experience, what I felt can’t be summarized on a video that talks about sustainability, so we made it wider, showed what walking around felt like.

I noticed how clean the streets are, even though there are barely any trash cans around, or how when you finally find trash can they are for recycling only. Never before I have seen people respect their public areas so much.

From riding the bullet train to watching sumo wrestling on TV, I was able to feel a bit of how Japanese life works, and I can’t thank my fellow students, and mostly the teachers: Mami, Levi and Kerrie, enough. This was an amazing trip and it wouldn’t have been the same without any of them.

Miguel L. Monori

Feb 27 2015, Okayama

After having a breakfast at the hotel we were living, we took the train to Okayama. We started the day by having a meeting in the lobby of the Granvia hotel, talking about the schedule and the game we were going to play—we were divided into six groups and each group were given a sheet of paper with missions written on it, including buy items from the convenience store, ask local Japanese people for photos, etc.
We first went to the Okayama castle by taking the cable car, and then did a sightseeing in the castle after Jin gave us a brief introduction about the history of it. Since the castle we were visiting is built mostly with black bricks, it is said that there is a white castle nearby that was built alone with the Okayama castle. From my standpoint, the castle we visited today is pretty similar from the one we visited in Nagoya, since some traditional Japanese items are shown in both of the castles, and there are some similarities between the appearances of both one. However, it was also really nice to see a gorgeous architecture like the Okayama castle.
After the trip to the Okayama castle, we visited a garden that set next to this. Frankly speaking, never had once had I seen a garden that is as breathtaking as this one—there were pavilions built on the golden grasses and small bridges over the flowing streams. The garden virtually offers tourists a chance to touch the nature and relax their mind from heavy works.
In the afternoon, we broke into six groups that were divided by Mami earlier, and had the competition that was introduced. The group that got back to the hotel first and had the highest point will win the competition. We, though are not sure whether will win the prize, had a great fun during the process.
We end our day by celebrating India’s birthday. It was really a tired but joyful day, and hope we can enjoy the rest of our journey.

Frank Fan’s Reflection

This M-term, I went to Japan. This was my first time and when I got my Japan visa, I was very excited. It was a wonderful trip and a fantastic experience in my life.

I learn the sustainability in Japan. In Japan, Mami, Levi, Kerrie always mentioned this word. When we needed to use the plastic things, they always stopped us and let us carry things without plastic things as many as possible. When I went to a museum about the environment, I saw some data about the plastic things that people used in daily lives. I never thought about it and I felt terrible when I saw the data. After that time, I know how to save.

I learn the respect in Japan. When people walked on the street, sometimes we could hear some bad words. The disrespect is a major problem in everywhere. But when we stayed in Japan, everyone was very friendly and very respectful. If people were respectful to us, we must be respectful to them. In order to avoid the embarrassment, Mami taught us “Thank you” and “Excuse me” in Japanese. I know the kindness of people in Japan.

I learn the greatness of the technology. In many museums, I could see the robots and nice cars. The people in Japan have abilities to make nice cars for their own citizens and I saw many videos about the quality of security of Japanese cars. In some shopping malls, I was very surprised that I saw that the robots could play the violin and the piano could work automatically and play the songs by itself. I know the advancement of Japan.

This trip is very significant for me.It lets me see and learn many things that I haven’t really known before. Thank you, Ms. Mami Takeda, Ms. Kerrie Tinsley and Mr. Levi Stribling for giving me this opportunity to have an excellent trip. Thank you for giving me a chance to learn more things.

Caio’s Reflection

The Japan Field Academy trip combined an amazing country, the guidance of teachers who love that country, and an overall great group of people to enjoy the whole experience.

Visiting castles and shrines I got a glimpse of traditional Japanese society and came to better understand the political role played by the famous Samurai. I could learn about different Japanese enterprises from the origin of the century-old Toyota, to a creation of oysters and a small production of salt.

Walking around I experienced the Japanese people’s strong sense of respect as well as their amiability towards foreigners and, from our interviews, learned how much they value their family and friends.

The trip in itself was an amazing experience in which I made many friends, from Ross as well as from Japan; learned much about Japanese history, culture and geography; and developed good habits (e.g. not producing as much waste).

Thank you Kerrie, Levi and Mami for this great experience.

India’s Reflection

I had a beyond amazing experience in Japan. I learned so much about Japanese values and traditions. The country was so exotic compared to what I’m normally used to and I loved that about it so much. Everyday was a new experience and I was never bored. I became close friends with people I thought I would’ve never talked to.

On this trip, I learned a lot about sustainability and how Japanese culture is really based on that. There are hardly any trash cans anywhere so you must carry your trash with you until you find one. This shows that the Japanese are very cautious about pollution because the streets are always spotless considering there are no trash cans! Also, they were careful with deciding if anything they bought was necessary to have a bag or not. Which also goes for Starbucks, a lot of people would bring reusable cups instead of using regular Starbucks cups.

Along with culture, Japanese people are very traditional people. About every single restaurant only serves traditional Japanese food. They also wear kimonos for any special occasions, which we tried out. I admire the Japanese for wearing kimonos so often because I can tell you that they are not the most comfortable outfits. Especially when wearing them all day.

Overall, I had an amazing time in Japan and I hope I get more opportunities similar to this one to get the chance to explore new places.

Thank you to Mami, Mrs. Tinsley, Mr. Stribling, and all the students who also went on this trip for making this experience unforgettable.

Personal Reflection

MINDFULNESS. RESPECT. DON’T BE SELFISH.

Three phrases I will never forget in my life. I think Mami repeated these words 100 times thought-out the Japan trip and it wasn’t till half way through the trip that I actually understood the true meaning of these words and applied them during the trip and after the trip. In the US people only look for what is best for them and that’s how I learned how to act after being in the US for six months. But during the trip to Japan we were taught to not only think about ourselves but the people around us in terms of how we act, the volume that we talk in, not disturbing or being in the way of others. And these traits I carried on with me to back to the US.

Another thing I learned during this trip is respecting time. Back home in Bahrain and at Ross we don’t use public transportation that often and during the Japan trip we had to take a lot of public transportation like buses and trains, so we had to be aware of time so we don’t miss the scheduled train or bus to get to places on time.

And finally I learned a lot about Japans environment and traditions. Japan is a very clean country and it does not have trashcans. Yet they are still clean. In America you would literally see a piece of trash thrown half a meter away from the trashcans.

Honestly this trip was perfect and the group was ever perfect-er I know that’s not a real word but yeah. I never thought that one day I could make close day-student fbut guess what I became close friends with most of the day students. And I also met a lot of boarders that I didn’t really have a chance to communicate with at Ross. If I were asked to repeat this trip I wouldn’t even think about it, its definite a yes.

 

Thank you Mami, Levi and Miss Tinsley for a great M-term.

Thank you For the Japan team for the unforgettable memories <3!

 

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Israa Dhaif

Lindsay Lerner: Reflection

Japan was an incredible experience and a great way for me to wrap up my last year of high school. Looking back I could not pick one single favorite moment of the trip. Each moment was different and even the bad ones added to an incredible experience. One of my favorite days was the day we went to Hiroshima and visited the A-bomb Peace Museum. The museum was unlike any museum I ever visited. It was very truthful in what happened there and displayed the tattered clothing, fingernails and belongings of some of the victims. However the museum wasn’t filled with spite and anger but rather a reminder why peace needs to exist between nations.

A lot of the trip was spent in castles, shrines and temples. At first, I felt like once you saw one you’ve seen them all. Looking back I realize how wrong I was. Sure some of it was a bit repetitive but each one taught us a little more about Japanese heritage. Like the   The A-Bomb museum the castles were a constant reminder of Japan’s triumphs and failures. They offered a unique view into a countries history.

Another one of my favorite days was in Kyoto. It was raining, cold and we were in Kimonos. It was the perfect combination for a terrible day but it turned out to be amazing one. We got to walk around a market ant taste incredible food, shop and really inject ourselves in everyday Japanese lives. To me, Japan was not just a school trip. It was something life changing and I am honored to have been able to spend 16 days with a incredible group of people in Japan.

Jin’s Reflection

I haven’t traveled to Japan before, because I’ve always thought that Japanese culture is somewhat similar to Chinese culture, but it turned out that I was wrong. As soon as the first day of our tour, I’ve found out the big differences between the two cultures, and American culture as well. Since the big theme of the trip was about sustainability, so that was where I paid my special attention. I remembered that the first day we were introduced that in Japan, there weren’t trashcans on the streets. In the beginning, I didn’t believe that, they might be less than there are in America, but there must be some. Then I found out that if one country really wants to keep itself clean, it must work like Japan then. In America, people throw trash everywhere, China as well, and most likely one is not going to pick a trash up if he or she throws it outside of the trashcan. Another reason is the recycle system of Japan, which is really advanced. Far back when I was in China, I’ve heard of how Japanese people are really serious about the recycling matter, which a lot of people had admired. In Japan, the trashcans were divided by plastic bottles/cans, newspapers, others, and etc.
Another thing that really impressed me is how the Japanese people taught their children the idea of unity. Because this is what it really is, their recycling ideas comes back to sustainability, the people here really are caring about their future generations, how they can create a similar or even better environment for their kids. As we visited the school, I saw how the little kids couldn’t even lift up the food basket, but was still trying his best to take it all the way back to the classroom without complaining a single bit. The children who served food in the classroom also knew what kind of person eats how much, he gave me more than other little children and gave a gigantic amount of rice for his PE teacher, he was adorable, but was also very responsible. The children had milk during lunch, which after finished, they fold the paper box, and put it into another milk box with other folded ones, they also separated the straw and the package that the straw came with. I looked into kids’ rice bowls, not single rice was wasted. During the class, I saw the idea of responsibility everywhere as well. When practicing soccer, children took the gates out from the storage themselves, and took them back after practice. In China, we say everything has to start with the children. In Japan, they took the responsibility of passing the environment to their future generation and started educating the children how to sustain such an environment.
Sustainability doesn’t only mean to preserve the environment and pass it down to the future generations; it also means to pass the history and the culture down. As theme of our group project was values, I interviewed a few locals, and paid my attention to people on the streets as well. I have always been ashamed of how Chinese people didn’t preserve their own style of clothing. I can’t recall what traditional clothing is really Han. If there were, it traces all the way back half a thousand years ago, which is not even modern and fits with the time. But in Japan, the people still are wearing kimonos. People have realized that they wanted to pass down their proud culture to their future generations, so they meant to wear kimonos so that it doesn’t lose track in history. It is also beautiful since such a dressing has carried a history of a nation on it. It’s also a shame that in Mongolia, people don’t wear the robes anymore, unless one still lives on the steppes. I thought Mongolia could also borrow the idea from Japan to wear robes ceremonially.
I’ve learned so much during this trip, about the idea of preserving for the future generations, to become selfless. The Japanese are right, we as in the river of history are shorter than a blink, the world was never ours, it’s our sons’.

2nd scavenger hunt-Jin

Lunch

Lunch

Dinner

Dinner

Cab ride

Cab ride

Our version

Our version

The ad

The ad

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After temple visit we had a little snack

After temple visit we had a little snack

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Mi gente

Mi gente

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Today was the second time we did the kimono day. Everyone woke up early to get ready for it as it would actually take a long time to get fully dressed. We took cabs to get to the place where we got dressed up, it wasn’t near. It was an ok weather, not rainy on the way to there. The area is kind of a traditional area, all the houses were small and mostly wooden. I quiet like it, it may seemed boring to live here, but it is the free spirit that really attratcts me, moutain at the backyard, streams go through houses, and an old temple stands right next to the neighborhood. Since I was the first one who went into the kimono house, it took me only ten minutes to get fully dressed, but different from last time, I got to choose the colors I wanted to wear, gray and bllue, safe choices make life easier, plus I had a golden belt that made me gangnam style.

Everyone looked absolutely gorgeous today. With such a elegance, all of us went up to the temple. In the temple, I went for fortune testing, love wishing and SAT wishing. Hopefully my dreams can come true. My hand got burned by the incent, well, the fortune did tell me to be careful of fire, it also told me I won”t get married, oops.After temple visiting, the rain started and got bigger and bigget, it was really annoying since it destroyed my kimono mood. We then went to the center of Kyoto, and went for another scavenger hunt there. We completed a replica of an advertisement, we bought souvenirs for family members, we took photos with people in kimonos, and also a group photo. These tasks weren”t hard, they did enhanced the friendship we have and helped us to know the city so much better, plus we had great food, cheap and delicious.

 

Lindsay’s post

March 9th

Today was a excellent way to wrap up out trip. It was our final kimono day! which makes me happy and sad because there so beautiful but very uncomfortable to wear. Waking up knowing I had to spend a day in such a confining item was nerve racking, yet excited because wearing one is a rare experience. My spirits were a bit downgrading when I stepped outside into pouring rain and chilly temperatures. I was convinced our kimono day would be canceled midway through the cab ride. Yet upon arrival we were greater with friendly smiles and plenty of kimonos to try on.
We walked around in out kimonos in the rain for hours. We started at the shop in beautiful and historic Shijyo, Kyoto. The streets were bustling with tourist and locals all visiting the temple. Walking around the temple was interesting. You can tell theres a lot of superstition associated with the temple. People where buying fortunes and burning green incenses. I didn’t buy any tho, I prefer to avoid any weird mojo. Plus the rain was slowing everything down. It took us over two hours to get through the temple but we stopped for a lot of snacks and shopping so it is understandable.
After the temple we got into cabs and headed to the market for lunch. Only due to language barriers and poor directions, some of the groups didn’t make it. It took us over a hour to find them. This lead to a incredible change in plans that gave us six hours of free time to eat, shop and do another scavenger hunt! by lindsay