Monday, August 25, 2008

Changing the World, One friend at a time...



This is me, and new Buddy Tomo Kun! This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday I attended another camp! But this time it was a little different. My entire family went! This was a camp for the disabled and their families. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I met so many wonderful people! This picture was taken just before our talent show, thats why my friend was in costume!!



In this picture, next to me is my host brother Itsuki! And his friend, and his friends mother!







Each one of the campers had a volunteer to assist them with bathing, and getting around the hotel! Most of them were 2nd and 3rd year Nursing students. They were all so fun!




My host dad is so cool isn't he?

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We had a camp fire the first night. This lady was amazing....









This is me trying my best to look like a star (hahaha) I sang in the "talent show"
My host mother was like my coach. The week before I almost lost my voice from practicing!

videoThese people would do anything to make these kids laugh, its actually really sweet....and by the way do not feel bad....I have no idea what he is saying either :)

videoThis was a beautiful performance by some of the volunteers. At the time I was not aware of the presence of any hearing impaired campers, but there must have been because the performance was done in sign language. It was wonderful.

I have so much respect for my host parents, and the parents of the other campers. It is challenging to raise a child, but even more so to raise a child with a disablility. I see the time and patience that goes into taking care of my host brother, and some of the other campers diablilites were more severe than that of my host brother Itsuki. The parents share many things in common, and understand each others daily challenges, however, one undeniable truth is that they all look at their children with the same adoration and love in their eyes. In a scociety and culture that easily misunderstand these children, they use this camp as an excape. An excape from the stares they recieve when out in public, the questions, the stress, and just have fun!

I wasn't expecting to make so many great friends. I can say that before now, I have unfortunately never taken the oppritunity to learn more about children with disablilites, or spend time around them. But they are just kids...they laugh, and smile, and want to play...

There really is no limit to all the lessons I can learn here in Japan. My heart and mind remain open....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hola, Oi, Hello, Konnichiwa, Bonjour, Aloha...

Learning a new language can never be a bad thing. But it comes with it's challenges. I think Japanese sounds exotic; but for those of you who are studying any of the romance languages, or any language written with letters instead of symbols you should consider yourself lucky, because you have a head start!



Japanese has three different writing styles. Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Sometimes you will encounter the romanization of these as well. Hiragana and Katakana are symbols...but they are phonetic.


This is Hiragana



This is Katakana

Katakana is mostly used to write non-Japanese names. Because expressing a foreign name with Kanji (The most common form of writing Japanese names) can be difficult.

- This is my name in Katakana.




Also, In the rental shop, the name of foreign movies are written in Katakana. The point is to make it sound phonetically like English, while still using Japanese symbols! A little confusing right?











This is an example of Kanji (Symbols borrowed from Chinese language)
This Kanji is "Ai"
And means Love.
I am currently able to read and write Hiragana and Katakana, and maybe 50 or so Kanji. But there are thousands, and thousands of Kanji to go!
As you can see Ive got my work cut out for me.
So good luck, and happy studies!

Friday, August 8, 2008

AFS CAMP 2008

I love summer. I love what summer represents, and the mood that it brings to everything and everyone. Ive honestly been trying to think of how to explain the joy in my heart, for this is the best summer of my life. Ive just returned from a camp full of exchange students, and some Japanese high school students. And in the moments we spent hiking, cooking, swimming, and even bathing together....It confirmed my beliefe that youth are the key to world peace, and programs like the one I am in now is a vital tool to achieve that peace.
Ill be honest and say, at first I didnt want to come to camp, and my fears were realized when they showed us this building we were to sleep in......







There is no bathroom inside, no beds, and no AC (lol) just floor to sleep on and some shelves to store your shoes...In the end it wasnt so bad.....




I met the cutest Korean boy. I was trying to have a picture to remember him by hahaha well some Japanese girl jumped in the picture hahaha

Funny thing is he loves black people and rap music. He watches American TV shows, and remembers the curse words from them hahaha

Its funny to hear someone who doesnt speak english to well curse like a pro. He loves 50 cent and Tupac. He kept me laughing, hes full of surprises.




This girl is awsome. Ami. She helped me out the whole time if I didnt understand something, not to mention we had some awsome girl talk during our hike. Shes so funny and she loves anything American lol





She says shes American in her heart, I believe her. Shes such a wonderful person and I know we are going to be friends for many years!










Every night we made dinner. Like real camp style. We made the fire and everything. Obviously Im not in this picture lol so I was standing to the side looking beautiful haha. It was about 10 people in my group, some people cut up the veggies, some people made the fire, and some people cooked! I cut up veggies, yay!!!





Me and my sister from Paraguay!



Vane is so awsome, and when we saw each other for the first time in 4 months we were jumping up and down and screaming "HERMANA, HERMANA" which means sister in Spanish lol


Shes such a sweet person, I cant wait to go see her in Paraguay one day!




Each one of these people is from a different country! Isnt it great! Dont they look so happy? I love this enviroment. It took me until the last day of camp to realize that I was the only black person there. I didnt notice at all. Its wonderful to be in a place and feel completely accepted and loved. These young people are the future, and will do some good for our world. I just know it, I feel it.



On our last night, we had a camp fire. We danced around it four hours. at the end of this clip you can hear me and someone talking some nonsense lol Its kinda funny. It was alot of fun. Im going to remember this forever.

video




I am so lucky, and this expereince confirmed for me why I am in Japan. It reminded me that Its not just about my Japanese expereince, but meeting other youth from around the world who have the same hope, ideas, and love for the planet . Its about creating lasting bonds that surpass nationality, religion, or race. Its about learning, sharing, bonding, living, and laughing together. But right now, and then we are sheltered, in our perfect diverse world,secluded and separated by mountains and rivers from the people who dont share our own views. So we have to learn to be each others support, and spread the love and respect that we share for one another to everyone we meet. I think its going to be a domino effect. And it started in the deep woods, on a mountain in Japan.


I wish some of our world leaders could have been there. To see Japanese, Americans, Germans, Brazilians, Australians, Coasta Ricans, Chileans and more, jumping around a camp fire together, staying up talking until 5 oclock in the morning. And coming away with so much love and respect in your heart. Thats how I want the future to be like. I sincerely hope that when I come away from this, I can apply what Ive learned to my life, and help others to have the same expereince. To help others feel the Love. To help others understand why its so important to have peace. Its so vitally important, I feel as though Im chosen, by a higher power, to do this. It was always my destiny to travel. I am a person with so much love to give. So much that I never really knew what to do with it. Being an exchange student has shown me part of the answer. Its to share that Love with everyone I meet, so they will share it with everyone they meet.


So it you are reading this blog, I invite you to start the domino effect that I mentioned. I invited you to open your heart to others and truly try to understand them, their ideas, and their culture. I invite you help us; To help all these wonderful people that Ive had the pleasure to meet and be friends with, to find that peace. It can be something as simple as making a friend from another country, or trying your best to let go of your stereotypes, or learning another language. All of these things are fun, and will benefit us all in the end.


With so much trouble, war, and death in our world, we can often forget that wonderful things are happening, wonderful life changing things. Strong cross cultural bonds. Be a part of the movement. Share the Love. Just Share the Love.