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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Get into a Japanese Community

Now I don't mean to find a literal Japanese community full of Japanese people, even though you can. Those are usually Japanese families who have started a community for themselves. No matter where you live or where you're from you can always find people like you who appreciate the Japanese culture, language, or whatever else you're into that's Japanese. You can either attend Japanese language, history, or literature related classes or you can join related clubs to meet people. But don't just join random clubs or classes, you still need to have interest in whatever you join.

What communities did I join?

I've joined some classes and clubs in my college days and met some of the greatest people through it. I've even found that I've bettered myself because of it. I have enrolled in Japanese language classes, studied abroad in Japan (I'll talk about that in detail another time), joined a Japanese culture club, and started a Japanese language club with friends who wanted to improve their Japanese. I would have joined my college's anime club but it wasn't the club for me. It was just a bunch of people watching anime on a Friday. I was looking for more of an intelligent discussion on anime which sometimes the culture club would cover. I loved the clubs I joined so much I took officer positions in them. Once I was done my Japanese classes I took the opportunity to tutor a friend who was just beginning the first level of Japanese classes. I was very involved with Japanese things in college, as you can see. In high school, not so much. There was only a few people who likes Japanese things and they weren't too open about it. All I did in high school that was Japanese related was draw anime characters in a notebook, bring manga to school to read, wrote a story in a notebook that was inspired by all the manga I've read, and go home after school to watch anime. It wasn't that exciting. I'm so glad I got to freely express my love of Japan in college. It has literally changed my life.

What did I get to do in the clubs?

Let's talk about the club I started with my friends I came back with from the study abroad program. We came back from Japan wanting to keep up with the Japanese we learned. Half of us were done with the Japanese classes we needed while the other half continued in their studies. We all decided it would be great to study together and form a Japanese conversation club. We called it Renshuu Douraku which roughly means leisurely practice in Japanese, and that's exactly what the club was. We would have our president go to the board and teach us sentence structure and use it in our own sentences. Once every month we'd play a game that I would make up that involved Japanese. I remember I translated the Game of Life board into Japanese so we could play in Japanese. That was pretty awesome. Sometimes we'd go on outings like going Japanese restaurants or local Japanese concerts. The club was pretty much just friends though. Not many people at my college were interested in learning Japanese.

During Renshuu Douraku club and outing to see a Japanese concert (Aural Vampire).

Now for the culture club. This was probably my favorite club. The president of Renshuu Douraku joined the culture club, Nippon, first. He already established himself with the people of that club and was already a good member. I joined the club because the president of Douraku wanted me to help out with a charity event Nippon culture club was putting on. I didn't know any of the people in the club and had never met them before but I knew one thing, I loved Japan. So I joined Nippon, the Japanese culture club, and my life changed for the better. The members of Nippon welcomed me with open arms, like I was already friends with them. I first attended meetings and helped organize the events but then they discovered my talents and passions. I began to give lectures at the meetings, perform at events, and recruit for new members at school events. I loved the responsibility and leadership Nippon provided me. I was extremely active in the club, even after I graduated from college. Nippon was one of the best times of my life.

Hosting a lecture about horror in anime at a Nippon meeting and performing at a Nippon event.

I recommend getting involved in a Japanese related club if you really like Japan. You will learn so much and make great friends out of it. If there are no clubs at your college or even at your high school you can always start a club like my friends and I did. It takes time and dedication to start a club but it's well worth it. Joining a club brings about a lot of opportunities that you wouldn't get anywhere else. I have no regrets about my involvement in the Japanese community at my college. I hope you all get to experience what I have one day.

I hope you enjoyed this post. It was very personal and I loved sharing this with all of you.

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