The most important thing I learned was to be confident and express opinions. When I first attended the first dialog class at William and Mary, I was very worried if my English skills were good enough and not brave enough to express my opinions. And I thought somebody else would answer the question so I can wait for that instead of answering by myself. However I learned that if I say nothing, no one would know what I am thinking and saying nothing is almost same as thinking nothing or not listening to that person’s story in America. So when we attend classes I learned that I can’t just wait somebody to point me and ask my opinion, but say my ideas actively. In Japan, listening to the teacher’s lecture is usually the most important part of class. However after I finished the program I understand the importance of active classes. Of course listening to the lecture is very important, but I think just listening lessens our concentration. When I attended lectures in Japan, I sometimes slept during the class when I was very tired. However, I did not sleep during the classes at William and Mary because I had he pressure that if I sleep now I would have no opinions and cannot share anything with the classmates. So I not just listened to the teacher during the class but think what is different from Japan or what I couldn’t understand. That helped me understand the lecture better and concentrate more. So I would like to keep on doing this when I take lectures in Japan and exchange ideas with my friends.
The other thing I learned is to be confident. Before the program I had no confidence especially for my English skills. I thought my English skills were very poor and I disliked saying that I am a returnee. Also I tried not to speak English as much as I can. However during the program teachers and CIs told me to be confident of my English and that made me very happy and gain a little confidence. It also made me speak more English not just with PAs and CIs but with the students from Keio. Since I used English for most of the time during the program, I feel that my English skills got a little better than before. I learned that having confidence helps us to challenge ourselves and that makes us more mature or experienced.
I learned many things about America during this program and religion was the most interesting thing and I would like to keep studying about this. By listening to the lecture about religion, learning American history and visiting the church made me understand how important religion is to people in America. It was also interesting how religion is different in Japan. I still remember I couldn’t answer my religion when we talked about it during the dialog class. I think most young people cannot answer their religion correctly in Japan. However it doesn’t mean that religion is not important to us. I learned that we can figure out new things by comparing different cultures. I think I wouldn’t have been able to realize this difference if I hadn’t participated in this program.
Even though two weeks was such a short time I learned so many things through this program and it was an excellent experience. I want to thank all the PAs, CIs, teachers and other staffs who supported us the whole two weeks and helped us have a wonderful experience. I strongly believe that everybody who has a chance should participate in this program. I hope I can meet the staffs again someday. Thank you so much for everything!