Students visit Japan over the summer


By Chiara Shafrazian


Over the summer, 26 students traveled to Japan to learn more about Japanese culture on behalf of the KAKEHASHI project. This trip was sponsored by the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and coordinated by the Japanese American Citizens League and the Japan International Coordination Center.

The objective is to promote mutual trust and understanding amongst the peoples of Japan, the United States, and Canada, in order to build a basis for future friendship and cooperation.

Students visited educational sites, high-tech and traditional industries, world heritage sites. Students who went on the trip include juniors Isabel Asadoorian, Tatiana Leranian, Inessa Sarian, Robert Avila, Heather Jung, and Hayk Sharlakyan. They learned a lot from their trip to Japan. They became more informed about the culture, the people, and even the 2011 tsunami.

Some of these discussions included hands-on-learning experiences such as home-stays and cultural arts events. Their goal was to convey information about Japan to the public in the visiting country in order to promote a better understanding of Japan. They all said they wanted to set a good impression by adhering to traditional Japanese customs like taking off your shoes when entering a building. For the most part, they were treated as foreigners and were open minded with their cultural differences.

“I personally didn’t find it very difficult to adjust since the culture was pretty similar to my own,” Jung (’20) said.

Adapting to Japanese life was easy. “A day or two in and you could learn pretty much the common things, people were very polite and they’d tell us if we were supposed to do something one way or another,” Sharlakyan (’20) said.

One student in particular saw the world with new eyes after the trip. Avila (’20) discovered that “the manners, the rules, were all so different.” He found it surprising that when meeting new people or elders, you have to bow to show respect.

One thing that Avila has carried with him ever since his trip is a newfound respect for others. He says it’s important to be mindful of others.

“Everyone takes care of themselves, they don’t want to create work for others.”

Even though the culture was pretty similar, the environment was not. In the U.S. Americans are accustomed to seeing trash on the floor. This is unlike

in Japan, where they keep a very clean environment.

“There was so much nature all around us, and it was really beautiful,” Sharlakyan (’20) said.

Since returning to the U.S., the students have gained newfound respect for other cultures as well as appreciation towards others and what they do.