Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Month of March & How to Count Rabbits in 日本語

Wow, it's already April, which means March came and went so quickly! In case anyone is wondering what kinds of things the interns have been up to, here is a copy of my monthly report (and a translation in English) with a brief overview of what I've been doing recently:

This month I've attended lots of Hippo events (workshops, group sharing sessions, international learning classes at elementary schools, orientation camps for future exchange students, etc.) At one of the workshops I was one of the main speakers and gave a 15 minute presentation about my experience traveling internationally and working with 4-H and LEX, all in Japanese! My host mom helped me a lot to prepare and practice beforehand, which made me feel a lot more confident :)

The photo is from one of the international learning classes I attended with a group of 3rd and 4th graders. It was a change from how the classes usually go, where we as the coordinators give presentations about different cultures and lead games with the kids. This time the students prepared
presentations on their own Japanese culture and taught us about things like Japanese food, geography, games, and school. I think it was really great! They were really cute too and gave me all kinds of little origami presents.

We also had the second yearlong student midterm meeting at the office, and I have started meeting with some of the students who will go abroad this coming year as yearlong exchange students to give them a chance to practice English. The formal English interviews are pretty nerve wracking, so this is another chance to practice English in a relaxed environment. A lot of them are pretty shy, so I'm trying to come up with new games or other things we can do to get everyone talking and not feeling nervous.

My host family is really great and a lot of fun and we talk all the time about all kinds of things, so my Japanese has been improving a lot! My host sister Kano-chan is 11 but a lot of the time she acts like my big sister because she looks out for me and shows me the correct way to do things, like when to bow or how to say something more correctly in Japanese; she's really cute, and it's actually really helpful! The other day she taught me all about an important part of Japanese culture: the Japanese boy band Arashi! Kano-chan loves them and they are really popular right now. I can now proudly say I know all the band members' names and favorite colors. You never know when this might be an important thing to know...

My favorite new thing I've learned in Japanese is how to count rabbits. In the Japanese language, there are different endings for counting depending on what kind of object you are referring to. For example if you are counting thin, long objects, flat objects, mechanical devices, large animals, small animals, mirrors, hanging scrolls, words, umbrellas, or houses, they will all have a different ending that marks the number.  Normally for small animals, the ending -piki is used but rabbits happen to have a differend ending -ha, which is the ending used for birds or things with wings, because apparently rabbit's ears are so big and floppy they are considered to be just like wings!!!

Mi papa de México en Japón!

This last week was exciting because I got to see Javier, my host dad from Mexico again! He's one of the coordinators of LEX México so he came to Tokyo last week for work and vacation, and it was really nice to see him!

Almost two years ago, I went to México as an LEX intern for 3 months, and stayed with Javier's family in Mexico City. It was a great experience, and one of the main reasons I decided to apply for the LEX internship in Japan. I did a lot of the same things as an intern in Mexico as I do here in the office like help check documents and work with the exchange groups, and of course had the opportunity to live and work in an environment where I was always surrounded by and communicating in Spanish, which allowed my abilities and confidence in the language to improve more than I had ever expected! Though my experiences as an LEX intern in Mexico and Japan have been different in some aspects, one of the things that has always been the same is the people. All the LEX members I have met in both Mexico and Japan have corazones grandes y abiertos. They are welcoming, open, caring, and fun. Thank you again to everyone from LEX Mexico for welcoming me and creating such a positive experience! And thank you to LEX Japan for making it possible to continue my connection with LEX and have a whole new experience here!

2012 with other Hippo members in Tokyo

2010 with my host family in Mexico City
I'm always amazed by how many connections exist and are strongly maintained across the world through LEX. I've gotten to see so many people in Japan who I've met before in Wisconsin or Mexico through the LEX/4-H exchanges and I'm always meeting new people who I find out are like brothers or sisters because we stayed with the same host families or have connections with the same people. 嬉しい!