This is Maki Motegi, a student intern of America-Japan Society. I’m a junior studying English Education as my major at Tokyo Gakugei University. I have been studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana as an exchange student for five months.
I realized I had a passion for becoming an English teacher, and in order to achieve that goal, I needed to gain a deeper understanding of the American English education system, which has led me to study abroad for a year. My adventure in America so far is going well and every single day is precious and inspiring. I am mainly taking elementary school education courses, and I am engaging in extended opportunities in local classrooms to gain experiential learning and to connect my study with the real world.
In addition to academics, I have enjoyed exploring new activities and getting involved on campus through the following organizations: a swing-dance club, Ball State Swing Society; a Christian organization, Navigators; community service activities; and the debate team. Furthermore, I have made wonderful friends here who seek similar interests in academics and extracurricular activities. Those friends of whom I speak enjoy my Japanese curry, bring me into their wonderful homes to meet their families, make me laugh and cry so hard, and pray for me as my mentor. I am already thinking about how awfully I will miss them when I return to Japan.
One of the things that I noticed throughout my studying abroad is how language is ever expanding my options in life, and I realized that when I don’t understand, I am severely limited. Furthermore, I noticed language makes it possible/impossible to express my identity. Although I sometimes struggle to only speak in a foreign language such as English, one of my favorite personal developments is that I can discuss the reality of cultural differences or the structure of social justice with a person who comes from a dissimilar background. By exchanging perspectives, I have found myself able to wear a new pair of glasses in seeing the world critically. Thus, I will be able to see through these new glasses in Japan.
The goals for the remainder of my study abroad follow: Firstly, I will keep stepping into new places and meeting more people so that I can gain a larger spectrum from which to view the world. Secondly, I will contribute to building a better relationship between Japan and America. Ultimately, I am developing a clearer vision of my future as an English teacher in Japan, so that I will be able to communicate and convey all the concepts that I have learned here in the United States to my future students.