I’ve been volunteering with an amazing non-profit, Reach The World, that connects international travelers to K-12 US classrooms. We write articles and video chat into the class, so the students can gain some of the cultural perspective, personal growth, and new experiences that come with being abroad. Through Reach the World, I have been sharing my travel experiences with 3rd-5th grade students in Brooklyn, NY. The best part? They are available online, for any student or classroom to use in the future.
Read more about my experiences here! I’ll paste links in this post (below) as new articles are posted to the Reach The World website (about two per week).
The first sun of 2019, in the Land of the Rising Sun
Happy 2019 everyone!
For New Years, I wanted to do two things: 1) go to a temple, which is a Japanese New Year’s tradition, and 2) see the sunrise. For the former, I decided to go to Yasaka Shrine, one of the most popular in Kyoto. For the latter, I decided to hike up Daimonji-Yama, an amazing 45-minute hike near my house, which has the best views of Kyoto I have ever seen and served as an amazing sunset-viewing spot a few weeks ago (picture of that sunset in a future blog post).
During the past 2 months in Japan, I’ve been making friends not only with people who are Japanese (my labmates, members of the biking club, etc.) but also people from other countries around the world (housemates, other exchange students, researchers, etc.). This has given me the amazing opportunity to hear about how people from other countries view America. It has also often put me in a situation of having to “explain America” to my friends.
Given that today started with transporting two 40 pound bags over 2 miles to my house, I couldn’t have imagined how it would end up!
After unpacking, lunch, and some shopping, I decided to head up to Ginkaku-Ji (the Ginkaku Temple). I figured, “I live right next to it, my building and neighborhood are named after it, so I might as well see it once.” I was expecting a traditional Shinto shrine like the Meiji Jingu that I had visited in Tokyo (picture below, from last week). What I didn’t realize is that Ginkaku-Ji is actually a Zen Buddhist temple! Beginning from the entryway and extending throughout the temple complex, there was a sense of intricate balance between the nature and human-made artifacts. Every time I re-looked at any part of the temple complex, I noticed another meticulously placed detail that I had missed: the rock balanced on two other rocks, the bamboo mats on the side of the stairway, the multiple geometric patterns in the raked pebbles. And at the top, there was an amazing view of the city!
The intricately-designed pebble patterns at Ginkaku-Ji
Ginkaku-Ji had a beautiful balance between the natural and the human-made artifacts.
For those who don’t know, I have the tremendous honor of spending 10 months (Sep 2018 – July 2019) in Kyoto, Japan on the Fulbright US Student Program. I will be doing Robotics research under the guidance of Dr. Takayuki Kanda, as well as immersing myself in and exploring the Japanese language and culture. Along the way, I intend to blog about my experiences! I’m not going to commit to a particular frequency of blogging, because I recognize that constantly documenting my experiences to share with others prevents me from being as present in the moment as I could be. However, I will try to share key experiences from the journey with you. Enjoy!
Many of the Fulbright grantees to Japan, along with members of the Fulbright Japan board, at the Welcome Reception in Tokyo. Picture from Fulbright Japan Program’s Facebook Page