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Voice of Foreign Citizens
The foreign residents living in Minoh consist of a variety of nationalities with unique situation and circumstances. Each of them lives his or her own life. Here are some of their voices.
I am a little “reserved” at school.
I am a native speaker of Japanese but writing kanji is tough. My school teacher encouraged me to join “Kodomo Hotto” so I signed up when I was a first grader of a middle school for the first time, but I didn’t like studying so eventually stopped going there. By the time I grew up to a third grader, I had made some friends of my age and enjoyed studying together, naturally joined back to “Kodomo Hotto” and spent almost every day there during summer break.
At school, I am not really myself. It’s not that I go with the flow but go along with other people’s behavior and opinions. I am careful if it is okay to do and say what I really want. My sense of value is not the same as others. If I do and say as I like, other people probably think I am awkward. For some reason, I always use honorific expression at school. Really being “humble” (laugh). Whenever I come to “Kodomo Hotto”, I can naturally be myself. When I don’t come out to “Kodomo Hotto”, I stayed home all day long.
I do not label myself as a foreigner or a Japanese, but a global individual!
Up until I entered a university, my life was preoccupied with extracurriculum activities in school and I had never given a serious thought on my identity or what nationality I hold. Thinking back now, I might have subconsciously identified “myself as a Japanese”. In the University, as I started learning Korean and spoke to my brothers and relatives living in Korea, my self-consciousness as “Korean on second thought” was burgeoned. Also, in Japan I have an “alien registration card”. This may be a major reason that helps me develop that self-consciousness. In reality, however, I am treated as a Japanese when I go to Korea. Fair enough. I understand. I was born and raised in Japan, schooled in Japan and speak better Japanese than Korean. All elements justify well enough for me to be treated as a Japanese. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, my “Korean” identity has already been up awake through realizing my own root and feeling so close to a country called Korea. Naturally, I puzzled, feeling “Who am I?” whenever people consider me as a Japanese.
In daily life, you may bump into someone who is a Japanese-like Korean or a Korean-like Japanese. You also may meet an Indian, Chinese or Russian. On that occasion, I would like you to treat them not as a foreigner or a Japanese but as a person who lives in Japan, just like any one of people, as a global individual.
Now love the Japanese food ingredients I once couldn’t eat. Cross-cultural understanding starts from a small step like this.
I am often asked how long I have been in Japan. Well, it’s been almost a half of my entire life. I am a Chinese but have acquired Japanese culture and customs naturally as having been living in Japan. The Japanese dishes I used to hate when I first came to Japan are now my favorite. That’s one of many examples.
It takes time for anyone who only knows his or her own culture to understand different culture. I believe, however, something will change for sure through MAFGA’s challenges. The Japanese, at least, will start paying attention gradually to different cultures.
Profile: A high school student from Okinawa. Born between a Japanese mother and an American father.
More opportunities for learning and supporting human rights must be provided at schools and local communities.
One day back in my kindergarten era, I was playing in the ground. The teacher said “Hold your friends’ hand”. So I was about to hold the hand of a girl near me. Suddenly, boys yelling pointing at me, “Don’t hold her hand. It’s dirty”. All the children around me stepped back away from me. I was so shocked.
I believe that it is important to increase opportunities to seriously learn about the human rights at schools and to support each other in a local community to prevent someone who is a “double” just like myself from being exposed to bitter and sad experience all alone. I have been doing my own very best but working all alone has a limit, so I expect more supports from schools and local communities to work together.
Silence does not mean that everything is all right. Please know that.
Foreign residents are anxious and helpless in everyday life with no language to be understood or place to ask for help. Please do understand that. Expressing oneself with Japanese language is such an easy simple task for Japanese.
However, Japanese as being a foreign language for foreign residents like us, it does require courage and energy. In many cases, we have to gulp down or give up with problems. I would really like Japanese to understand that silence does not mean there is no problem.
Having a foreign classmate is a chance for you to learn.
My daughter, now a sixth grader in an elementary school, used to cry often. However, there was a time she never cried. That was when she was a third grader. At that time, she enjoyed going to school and made a lot of friends. That was a thankful school year. On the first day at school in that year, I learned that her classroom teacher said to the class, “Everyone is different”, “There are many people living in the world”, “Accept differences. Even among the Japanese, we are different”, “There is no single same face”, “It’s okay to be different from others”, “Find positive qualities in your friend personality.”
On the first day after school back at home, your child most likely say “there is such and such person in class.” As a parent, I’d like you to respond “That’s great! You have someone from different country in your class. You have a lot to learn from this friend.” Children grow up day after day as listening to what grown-ups are saying, so I’d like you to watch what you say. I hope mothers and fathers realize that “having friends from different countries provides chances for their children to learn something new.”