Nihongo Classes, August 2019
August 9th 2019 marked the first day of the Class of 18 Rotary Peace Fellows at ICU starting their Japanese lessons. For some fellows, this was the first time they had every heard the new sounds of Japanese. For others, the classes were a chance to re-fresh and re-cap their previous study experiences.
I have been living in Japan for three years now, but I have only very infrequently studied Japanese. However, I have a huge advantage in that the sounds of the words are familiar to me, even if I don’t understand what they mean! I found the classes to be enjoyable and challenging, as we had to speak Japanese every day and I tried my best to support colleagues who were totally new to the language. I learnt some new phrases and have started to speak the little Japanese I do know with greater confidence.
The classes concluded with the giving of a speech, entirely in Japanese, to a room full of Japanese people! Each of our speeches lasted around 1-2 minutes and we had to memorise them too. We gave our speech’s at the closing ceremony of the classes and then again at a Rotary Orientation event. Both times made us all feel high levels of anxiety, but also great pride once we had delivered.
However, for me, the most impactful aspect of the classes was having the change to start to get to know the other new fellows at ICU this year. I have been blown away by their stories, experiences, goals for the future, and intelligent and inquisitive minds. We all have a diverse range of experiences to bring to the fellowship, and it is an honour to be counted among them.
Tomorrow marks the first official day of term as I begin my graduate induction programme. Is this real? It still feels like a dream…