Thursday, July 12, 2012

Intern Graduation

On Monday Tino and I graduated from the internship program. I can't believe it's almost time for me to go home; these last few months have gone by so fast!
Tino and I wearing Japanese Kimono and Yukata.
For our graduation, we had a ceremony at the LEX headquarters and all our host families and lots of Hippo friends and staff attended. We both talked about our experiences this year in Japan, our time with our host families and friends, Hippo, and our learning process and discoveries in Japanese. I also shared a little bit about my cultural project, which was Japanese ceramics. We both talked for about 40 minutes, all in Japanese!
Part of my presentation about the pottery I made in Japan
as part of my cultural project.
When I first arrived llast year in September and had to introduce myself at a Hippo's 30th Anniversary event, I was was nervous because I couldn't speak Japanese at all and practiced over and over in order to be able to say,"Konnichiwa, watashi-no namae-wa Stephanie-desu. Yoroshiku-onegaishimasu."

At that time it seemed impossible that I would eventually be able to give a presentation like this in front of a large group of people completely in Japanese, but now that first introduction I learned is like second nature to me, and it's no problem at all to talk for 40 minutes straight.

This wasn't the first time I have spoken about my experiences in Japanese at events or in groups; I have been doing it little by little all year and as learned more and more Japanese and became more comfortable I was able to say more. Of course, my Japanese is not perfect, but looking back at where I was 10 months ago when I arrived in Japan, I am so amazed at what I am able to understand and communicate now!

At the end of my presentation I read a letter that my friend Sachi gave to me a few months ago that I absolutely love and I think also sums up the Hippo philosophy and environment very well.. Sachi is 7 years old. The letter, which was in Japanese of course and written on a bright pink piece of origami paper, went something like this:

"To Stephanie, (pretty!)

You are an American, but your Japanese is fluent 
                                    (you can speak really well)
but sometimes you make mistakes, 
but it's okay, 
mistakes are okay too.

From Sachi"

I have been really busy in the last few weeks finishing last projects in the office before I leave, and getting ready to go to Korea on Saturday! I will be there for a few days to help with the orientation for the group that is going to Wisconsin this summer and stay with a host family for a short time, then back to Japan for a few more days and then it will be time for me to go home. 

I will miss Japan very much and all the wonderful families and friends I have made here but I am sure we will keep in touch and someday I will see many of them again, maybe in Japan or America or in some other part of the world. I have learned a lot this year and had many amazing experiences thanks to all of you. I will never forget the time I have spent here and I will always keep you in my heart.

Thank you so much to LEX for providing me with the opportunity to come to Japan and to all my host families and everyone I have met who has helped and supported me throughout the year!


With my three host families, sharing their impressions and favorite memories 
of my time with them. They all said such nice things! I will miss them!
Everyone with LEX founder, Mr. Sakakibara、after we
received our certificates of program completion.

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