An Introduction to Japan

by Nicole M., Japan outreach participant

Japan cityscapeOne of our first experiences in Japan was visiting a Japanese school. On our second day in Japan, four of us went with an English teacher from Mongolia to the school where she works. The school is an all-boys high school, a strict one that prepares its students for a well-known university here in Japan. We were all a little nervous about the experience, but also interested to see what a Japanese school was like.

After we met with a teacher and the school principal, we went to our first class. Our job would be to introduce ourselves to the class one at a time, and then split up to lead an English discussion with a small group of students.

The boys were nearly all 16. Some were outgoing, some shy. They all seemed a little intimidated about having strangers in their class, yet we were also told that they were excited to have four girls in their school!

It was interesting to see the structure in the school. The students all had the same outfits, the same shoes, even the same schoolbags. Several of the boys were very good at English and seemed able to understand most of what we were saying.

After following our routine in three classes, the Japanese teacher we were working with treated us to a traditional Japanese box lunch from the cafeteria. We tried seaweed, Japanese radish, miso soup, and a variety of other foods. For some of us, it was our first taste of real Japanese food! Of course some of the foods were pretty different from what we're used to, but we all found some things that we enjoyed!

Being able to see a Japanese school was a fascinating experience. We were blown away by the hospitality and the generosity of the Japanese toward foreign guests. We came away from the school with a greater knowledge of the Japanese mindset, their impeccable manners, and their unique culture.