Author Archives: Merch

We miss it…

Substitute Tokyo for Texas and you’ll know how we feel getting back together as a group and thinking about our time in Japan.

We had the first of our two spring IIM classes on Saturday. As we gathered in Hamilton 100 as a group for the first time since before our flight to Tokyo, we couldn’t help but reminisce and think back to our time in Tokyo. We miss our host families, the schools we visited, and just … life in Japan.

We’re putting together our IIM Symposium presentation for later this spring by thinking about how to best communicate the incredible nature of our trip to Tokyo and Karuizawa to classmates, faculty, the Board of Trustees, parents, and other community members. We probably won’t sing Sandy’s tune, but we’ll pour just as much emotion into the experience, that’s for sure.

Here’s Principal Hajime Uzaki with Ms. Doemland and Merch from our afternoon at Joshi Gakuin. We loved our visit to Joshi so much and look forward to our relationship with them in the future!

We’ve been in touch with our hosts in Japan in the month since our return, but nothing is quite like being there in the same place. We look forward to continuing the connections in all different ways, personally and institutionally, moving forward. And maybe getting that sense of home back somehow…

Stateside: Reflections in International InterMission

I have been in touch with my host sister. It’s a little hard because of time difference but I have indeed talked to her and my classroom friends a lot. The hardest things about coming back, I think, is everything for me. I miss my family in Japan and the food. I miss their way of living and the manners, too. I miss the community and the way they were so welcoming to us. I felt very important and special there which is one of the things I miss the most. Feeling special. I have taken some of their manners routines like the bowing – I can’t really stop bowing. I also learned to listen more and be more open to differences. When thinking about the IIM experience, the words are all positive – amazing, fun, great, impressive and all the possible positive words that exist come to my mind.

Stateside: Reflections in International InterMission

It’s now been one week since our return from Japan and to be completely honest I wish I was still there! This past week on multiple occasions I’ve missed my host family and the routine I had created with them multiple times. While I’m happy to be home and with my own family, there is something to be said about a culture so kind, generous, and thoughtful.

I miss waking up in the morning and being greeted by my house mother who, despite knowing very little English, always had a smile and a “good morning” to offer. I miss my host dog barking and trying to scurry out of the apartment as we left for school. I don’t miss the crowded bus but I do miss the heated train seats and the sight of the same people every day as we walked to school. I miss the smell of the alleyway we passed on our way home every day and I hope that one day I’ll return to Japan even if just to try the source of that scent.

My host sister and I talk less and less each day, her busy with her studies and I with my own, but we’ve exchanged pictures of our family and pets and I’m confident that when the time comes we will reconnect easily. Living with her for two weeks made me realize to always put your best foot forward because then others will do the same and to remember that even though it’s easy to dwell on the negative, if you try to stay positive those aspects will outshine the rest. I feel mentally rested and inspired I feel that I’ve had experience that reconnected me with the things that I love and the experiences that I enjoy most.

The trip reminded me of who I am because in a place so new and different I had the chance to think about myself again. So many words could be used to describe my InterMission experience, but every time someone asks me, “How was Japan?,” the first word that comes to mind is “Amazing.”

Stateside: Reflections in International InterMission

In the week I have been home from Japan, I have thought a lot about our trip.

I have not directly spoken to my host sister but we follow each other on social media and have been liking each others posts. My family and I are planning on sending them thank you letters in the mail very soon. In addition to seeing my host sisters posts, I’ve been seeing her friends posts which has been nice to stay in touch. On Friday night, another Porter’s girl and I were using Instagram live and one of the students from ISAK joined and was sending us messages. We both thought it was crazy how we made lasting friendships in only a few hours and are staying in touch on opposite sides of the world. I hope I can keep these relationships with everyone I met for a very long time.

The hardest part about returning from Tokyo has been readjusting. I’m experiencing a lot of the things I had to adjust when we arrived in Tokyo including different food, time zone, way people communicate, culture, and ultimately the way the people around me live. In someways, I feel a bit foreign in my hometown, but I’m pretty sure I am on the other side of readjusting. The thing I miss most about being in Tokyo is simply having everything be new. While at times it was exhausting and I wanted the things I’m used to, the little things around you become fascinating when they’re new. I experienced a new language, culture, city, scenery, people, food, customs, and so much more. One day, I hope I can return Japan and while the experiences won’t be brand new, I’m sure they will be just as interesting.

Having this international experience has made me more grateful for the life I have. Being away from things for two weeks made me realize how important they are to me. I have been trying to be show more appreciation for these things and people since being home. I have also been waking up earlier since returning home. In Japan, I woke up much earlier than I typically would because it was a long to commute to school. Now, I wake up earlier because in Japan I realized I like being up earlier in the day. In all honestly, I haven’t realized everything I have been doing differently since being home. As I continue to reflect in the next days, weeks, months, and ultimately years to come, I expect to realize more of these changes.

I’m extremely grateful for this experience and how it has made me a better person.

Stateside: Reflections in International InterMission

I learned so much about myself while in Japan.

The hardest thing is adjusting back to the time schedule. I’ve been having such a hard time sleeping. I miss all of the really cute girls at Kichijo who were so excited to see and talk to us every day. I also miss just hanging out with all my friends in Tokyo. There was something really special in being together half way across the world. It was sort of like we were all able to live in the moment and bond with one another. I think the fact that we weren’t constantly on our phones the whole time was really special as well. We were able to form really meaningful relationships.

I have been texting one of the host sisters on Facebook about the bio experiment we did there. I also talk about how much I miss Japan and we talk about all the fun activities we did like karaoke and all the food we tried.

Farewell Party

It seems like so long ago that we were in Tokyo, spending time with the girls at Kichijo! We’ve been back at Farmington for more than a week, but we’re still thinking about our IIM experience in Japan.

This week, look out for more posts reflecting on the adjustment back into life at Miss Porter’s School. For now, some thoughts and pictures from our fond farewell at The Kichijo School.

Our host families, students from homeroom, and the teachers who had worked to make us feel so welcome at Kichijo came together on our last full day at school to throw a party.

We gathered in the conference room for fun, memories, and snacks!

Each seat in the conference room had an agenda and we looked down to find a quiz listed between memories and goodbyes. A quiz!? But we hadn’t studied – we were too busy having fun!

Porter’s and Kichijo pose for one last photo — it’s so hard to say goodbye!

Luckily, it turned out to be a rollicking game of trivia! We shared memories, connected on LINE if we hadn’t already shared contact information, and posed for one last photo. We were so lucky to have Ancient Yasuko Nagase ’96, who attended both Kichijo and Porter’s, join us for our goodbye. Jun Saito, Yuka Kobayashi, all of the teachers at Kichijo, and our amazing host sisters and families – we will never forget you! Our experience in Tokyo was absolutely unforgettable.

Finally, we wanted to leave one lasting memory with the girls at Kichijo. Maybe we’ll see them again soon…

 

Fun from School

We can only begin to share in words and images all of our favorite moments from our days at Kichijo.

Calligraphy class was one of many highlights at school as we learned how to write the kanji for beauty, flower, heart, and friend.

Calligraphy class was one of many highlights at school as we learned how to write the kanji for beauty, flower, heart, and friend.

Everyone took such good care of us – from helping us choose our entrees and desserts in the cafeteria to lending us extra shorts when we forgot our Porter’s gym uniforms. We spent time in English Conversation, Math, Biology, Ethics, and other regularly scheduled courses with our host sisters and students from our homeroom classes.

Fukuwarai comes in many different faces, but this old grandmother helped us have fun while learning the words for directions in Japanese class.

Fukuwarai comes in many different faces, but this old grandmother helped us have fun while learning the words for directions in Japanese class.

We also had classes built into the schedule just for us, like calligraphy and Japanese lessons. A lot of laughter, love, and lessons followed us through the halls and courtyards of Kichijo and many of the things we learned will stay with us for a long time.

Questions, Part 3 of 3

For one of our last reflections, we composed a list of questions we are still thinking about for our experience. The focus of our course on women in modern Japan combined with our experiences with other young women at three different schools in Japan has left us with more questions than answers.

  • What’s your image of a typical American?
    • What surprised you about your visit to QMS or having visitors from MPS?
    • What would you want to do if you visited MPS?
  • What do you think about the Japanese education system compared to what you know about the US and Canada?
    • What do you love about it?
    • What would you want to change?
  • What do you expect for your life after university?
    • Do you plan to return to work after marriage and/or childbirth?
    • Can you see yourself working at the same level or above men?
  • What do you know about US politics and the new president?
    • How often do you talk about politics in school?
    • How often does the US come up in those conversations?
  • What are the benefits of girls’ schools?
    • If you could create your own school…?
  • What do women need to be successful?
    • What is the definition of a successful woman?
    • Do you have female role models?

Some of our questions have as many answers as there are girls at Kichijo. Others are ones we will continue thinking about during our spring semester, as we move into the next phase of InterMission. We look forward to putting them together with some of our more lighthearted experiences in order to show our community what it was like to spend two weeks in Tokyo.

Questions, Part 1 of 3

For one of our last reflections, we composed a list of questions we are still thinking about for our experience. The focus of our course on women in modern Japan combined with our experiences with other young women at three different schools in Japan has left us with more questions than answers.

Here’s Kelly Choi on the experience…

“Drafting questions with our group of students was an easy process because we are almost at the end of our trip and there are many pressing questions in our minds that we would like to ask the Kichijo students.

Some of the starting questions were, “What’s your image of a typical American?” or “What surprised you about Miss Porter’s School?” We also had many questions comparing our school to Kichijo because we noticed many differences as well as similarities. Many students in our group also wanted to ask if Kichijo students were to create a brand new school, what would it entail? I personally was very curious about the topic of politics and whether the students here followed American politics and knew anything about the coming inauguration.

Once my partner Annie and I were back in our Senior home room, we were split in 4 different groups and we went around in a circle going to each group. The students were very well prepared with statistics and facts about modern women in Japan. The common themes that I observed in each group was that they all agreed men are seen as superior to women in Japan which was supported by statistics of the large wage gap and how most women quit their jobs after giving birth.

When I asked, “What does a successful women look like in Japan?,” one group showed me Yuriko Koike, who they explained was a role model for many girls at Kichijo Girls’ School. She was the first woman in Japan to challenge many gender barriers and stereotypes by becoming Tokyo’s first woman governor. They explained that they looked up to her because Kichijo teaches girls to be independent and that their goals and dreams are to become successful independent woman in Japan. Since our main goal and theme of this trip was to learn about modern woman in Japan, it was great to hear that they wish to follow in the footsteps of independent women such as Yuriko Koike.”

Questions, Part 2 of 3

For one of our last reflections, we composed a list of questions we are still thinking about for our experience. The focus of our course on women in modern Japan combined with our experiences with other young women at three different schools in Japan has left us with more questions than answers.

Here’s Georgie Harrison on the experience…

“For our meeting with the 11th grade English class, we had to come to class prepared with questions on the theme of Japanese women. I found the question ‘What were your expectations of American teenagers?’ most interesting because everyone has stereotypes and I was wondering what they thought. Their responses were surprising, but the discussion illustrated a common theme I have found throughout my trip in Tokyo – to not have any expectations.”

The juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and modern in Tokyo is everywhere you look. Sometimes, it even comes out in our conversations with students at Kichijo.

The juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and modern in Tokyo is everywhere you look. Sometimes, it even comes out in our conversations with students at Kichijo.