Thursday, January 8, 2015

The SSEAYP Diaries: Tagara High School

I’ve never played any other instrument aside from the drums, piano and the guitar. Maybe the recorder, but never the shamisen, or Japanese guitar. Till now. (And I got a cute guy to teach me how to play too hehehehe, achievement unlocked)

My visit to the local high school in Japan was quite an eye-opener. It’s not like any school I’ve seen before because it’s a mixed culture school; most of the students have parents who either migrated to Japan from other countries or married into the Japanese culture and hardly any of the students are pure Japanese, which is pretty unique. Most of them also speak at least two languages – their own native language, and Japanese.

The subjects they are taught do not revolve around the commonly learnt basic math and english. They learn everything there is to know about Japanese culture; namely the Japanese drums, guitar, Japanese chess, tie-dye, martial arts and they even have a tea ceremony class.

We visited the school according to our discussion groups, and we were then split and mixed in with the students. They then took us around the school for a tour before we immersed ourselves in their classes.

(Really old teachers fit as f. They were tumbling and rolling everywhere)

Oh, the shamisen teacher is a prodigy. He plays the shamisen like a damn dream. I was in awe. The shamisen sounds similar to a guzheng, and it’s really melodious. I don’t think I’ll try playing a pop song on it anytime soon though.

This was art class, where they were in the midst of tie-dyeing fabric. 

Yes, chess is a class.

And of course where would a school be without teaching its students the art of the tea ceremony?

Billy (from Laos) and I, attempting to play the shamisen

That's my music instructor hehehehehe. Cutie was so patient with me. I am not exactly a musically inclined person...

We ended the visit and the experience with the students presenting on their dreams and aspirations. They never get much of a chance to do presenting, which means they don’t practice english very much. I managed to encourage my two “students” to present their best, and despite their reluctance, they plucked up the courage to present in front of everyone. For some reason, I felt a sense of pride watching them do their thing~

And apparently that's how mass selfies became my thing.

Thank you Tagara High School. May your students continue to aspire to be the best, and to spread their energy around. It’s students like these who make cultural exchanges so enjoyable. Their willingness to learn and absorb new information as well as their determination to succeed is a small, yet meaningful life lesson anyone should take away.

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