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Our Friends At Lincoln Friends School /
In June we had a visit from Silvia, a Spanish teacher, from the Lincoln Friends School in Rhode Island. We have had contact with teachers and students at the Lincoln Friends School for about a year now and Silvia was the second teacher to visit us. She stayed for three days and met with many teachers and students. We had two special English Lunches while she was here and the students really enjoyed learning about another all-girls Friends School.
Silvia, who is originally from Colombia, also taught us some Spanish. On the last day of her stay with us she made a speech in morning worship. She talked about why she wanted to visit us and what she learned. She, in both her personal life and professional life, likes to live a simple and peaceful life. She sees a lot of beauty and simplicity in Japanese culture and hopes to tide that to live better when she returns to America. I’m so happy that the pandemic is essentially over and we are able to go back to welcoming guests from all over the world to our school. It offers an invaluable experience for our students while also helping us as a school to build contacts and make relationships with other educators.
Translated by Y.Y 高２
Global Voices 国際交流
Sinéad O’ Connor
O’Connor: Please briefly introduce yourselves
Coma: Hi, I’m Coma. I’m from Switzerland and I’m 17 years old and I enjoy Japanese culture so that’s why I came to Japan. It’s very different from Switzerland and I really enjoyed my exchange year here in Japan and at Friends School.
Zsofi: I’m Zsofi, I’m from Hungary and I’m 16. I was just 15 years old when I came to Japan so now I feel like I was so young back then. I have so many memories and I really enjoyed being here so I feel like I made a good choice.
O’Connor: What was the biggest culture shock you experienced here?
Zsofi: For me, I think the first was the trains and the subway system because in Hungary the trains and buses just come when they want. They always come late and they are always so dirty. Japan has such a good system with PASMO. The trains always crowded but it’s so clean.
Coma: Probably for me it’s the people, like, they’re so nice all the time. They’re so friendly, almost too friendly for me sometimes. They’re so, not honest, but, like, in Switzerland we have small shops and people in Switzerland would steal from those shops because they’re so easy to steal from but here they wouldn’t do that. And also Japanese people do something that others do because they don’t want to stand out. I think that was one of my culture shocks.
O’Connor: What did you miss the most about home while being in Japan?
Coma: My friends and family. I’m not really a homesick person but if they were here with me in Japan it would be a perfect dream. But I don’t really miss Switzerland, it has positive sides but also negative sides so I think for me friends and family.
Zsofi: I missed my family and friends too. Especially my friends. I’m really close with them, we live together in the dorm. We spend the week together and here I don’t have daily contact with them so it was really hard in the beginning but now it’s becoming normal, like, we talk once a week or every second week, but we are so busy so it’s hard.
O’Connor: What was your school life experience here in Japan? Did you have a favorite subject?
Coma: I think my favorite subjects were the English subjects because I didn’t feel so left out, I could join the class. So the 高１ English speaking class, the 高２ TED class, and TEE were probably my favorites. And my favorite event was the school trip to Kyoto and Nara.
Zsofi: For me my favorite classes were also the English classes and the Food & Fashion class. I really enjoyed Food & Fashion because it was so peaceful, I enjoyed making something Japanese — I made a kimono. And my favorite event was the Kyoto trip and the Sports day. I don’t really like sports but I spent the whole day with friends from my class so it was so much fun.
O’Connor: You just got back from the school trip to Kyoto and Nara. How was it?
Coma: I think it was really fun because it was not in school. And I thought it wasn’t going to be that strict but the teachers were very strict compared to trips in Switzerland, especially sleeping time, restrictions on candy, make-up, phones. But the last day, where our group made the plan, was so fun because we could choose where to go and what to do, like, just enjoy Kyoto as much as we can and because it was with friends it was really nice.
Zsofi: For me, Kyoto is now my favorite Japanese city. It’s so crowded but it feels so peaceful and calm. I don’t know how but I really want to take my friends and family there too. Nara was good too but there was one day and it was so hot. We were walking from one temple to another. It was good because I was with my friends but under the sun at midday its just hard.
O’Connor: What was the hardest thing for you this year?
Zsofi: First, for me, the language. I didn’t have a hard time, maybe winter was hard because it was so cold and I was just at home there was not so much to do. That was hard because I really like going out and spending time with friends but when it’s cold and rainy I din’t like that. In Tokyo I never felt that if I don’t speak Japanese it's a bad thing because everybody can speak a little English. In the beginning I couldn’t make friends because we could only make small talk, but from January or March it because better.
Coma: I think for me too in the beginning my Japanese was not too good. Like, only being able to make small talk was hard. I wanted to be able to speak more but if I don’t know Japanese well and the other person doesn’t know English well we can’t communicate, and that was a bit sad. Also the winter time for many exchange students, it’s half a year into the program and you start thinking “maybe I should go back”, and like, the winter is cold and I don’t like the cold weather.
O’Connor: What’s the next step for you?
Zsofi: I have so many plans. First, from October I want to apply for a scholarship to an international boarding school like the UWC. There are 18 schools in the world but if I go on a scholarship I can just give my preferred places. And then in summer I really want to go volunteering in Africa, working with children and helping them for maybe 2 or 3 weeks.
Coma: I really don’t know, I don’t have a long term plan but I have 2 years of school until I finish, so I want to finish those. Swiss universities are very good and if you have a Swiss Bachelors or Masters you can do anything so probably I want to go to a Swiss university. I want to study something international or with English because I have international experiences.
O’Connor: What’s your favorite Japanese word?
Coma: ジロジロ . It’s our favorite word. We always say this. It’s onomatopoeia and it means when someone stares at you.
Zsofi: When we were in Disneyland or something because we are foreigners everyone often stared at us so we said “they are ジロジロ-ing us”.
O’Connor: Do you have a message for Friends School students?
Zsofi: My message is be open to everyone. Don’t be shy. Like, in the beginning they always told me they are not so good at English and that’s why they don’t want to speak to me. If they can just say a few sentences in English and I can say a few sentences in Japanese it can make my day. Then I can make new friends. I also learn English, it’s not my native language so I know how you feel. I know how hard it can be.
Coma: My message is probably also be more open to exchange students because we really appreciate when people come to us and just say something small. Often, especially at the beginning when I was in the classroom I tried to join people to join what they were talking about and often people wanted to talk to us but they were too shy. So, just go for it. You can’t do anything wrong.