*how your perception of the US changed before and after the program
Before I visited the US, I hadn’t had much opportunities to talk with American people. I had thought that the people in the US were cautious as America is the gun-toting society. But after I joined this program and had much opportunities to have communication with “American people” (I mean people living in the US), I realize that the situation was quite opposite. The staff in restaurants were very kind and the customers in hotels greeted us in a very friendly way. And of course, the staff of this program was truly nice and supported us with ardor.
Furthermore, American people are not only nice and kind but also very frank and not so sensitive to personal data, compared to Japanese people. For example, almost all American hamburger shops or restaurants in which we order food or drink at their counter ask customers’ name. But this hardly happens in Japan in order to protect customers’ personal data. I think American society is more open than Japanese society because America has much more kind of people than Japan. As we learned through this program, there are so many kinds of people in America, such as “white” people, African American people, native American people, immigrants from Mexico, Europe, Asian countries and so on. I think therefore American must expose their own data to some extent and make effort to get along well with each other.
*most important things you learned
Through this program, I learned a lot of things which are very useful for my current life and my future career. It’s so difficult to choose one, so let me talk about two lessons: having courage to be positive and improving language skills.
First is about having courage to be positive. In this program there were a lot of opportunities to have communication with American members and Japanese members such as dialogue class, focus group work, and free time activities. Because I was not good at express my own opinion clearly even in Japan, I tried hard to communicate with people. This is one method to have communication easily with others, which I read in books: first listen to other persons’ opinion carefully, think hard to understand what they are thinking, and then express my opinion. This was successful because by understand people’s opinion, I was able to organize my thoughts and be more positive to express my opinion. And I realized that once I said something everyone responded to me and conversation continued. Through this experience I found that being positive to listen to others and express one’s opinion leads to the good communication.
Second is about improving my language skills. As I mentioned, listening to others and express one’s opinion make it possible to have good communication. But both “listening” and “speaking” need language skills. Through this program I had a lot of situation where I couldn’t say what I want to say because of my vocabulary shortage and used other expressions or body language. I found that I must build up my language skills to make others understand what I want to tell.