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David interned in Tokyo, Japan, teaching English to students at Toshin High School.

David is a rising Junior (’18) in Weinberg majoring in psychology and minoring in Asian Languages with a concentration in Japanese. As part of the Summer Internship Grant Program, David interned in Tokyo, Japan as an English teacher and mentor at Toshin High School, a preparatory school network for university entrance examinations in Japan. In the future, David hopes to be a physician assistant, but is also very interested in education.

This summer I interned in Tokyo, Japan at Toshin High School for six weeks. Using a one-week long curriculum developed by the Toshin company, I taught English and mentored different students every week. A large focal point of the program was having the students develop an idea of what their missions in life were by exposing them to a large range of studies that we, the interns, engaged in. While one week may seem too short of a time to make a difference, by the end of the week I witnessed students give incredibly impressive presentations on their life missions. Through an examination of global and local issues, students not only developed critical thinking skills, but also grew in self-confidence and motivation. They didn’t just discuss problems, they also presented their own ideas on how to solve them and explained how others could contribute.

Luckily enough for me, this internship was delivered straight to my email inbox by the Japanese listserv. While I interned for Toshin, the name of the internship program was “Come On Out – Japan.” To apply, I submitted a 3-page written application and then had two interviews through Skype over the course of two months. I received notification of my acceptance in early February and decided then to apply for SIGP.

As cheesy as it sounds, I take a lot of pride in knowing that I was able to change many of my students’ opinions on English, and learning in general. Reading a lot of their initial thoughts, I know that many of them felt scared and intimidated by an environment in which they could only speak English. The Japanese education system is worlds apart from the American one. Many of my students were content to stay silent during activities because they felt that what they had to say was either wrong or that they wouldn’t be able to properly convey their ideas in English. Trying to shift them away away from that perspective was a huge goal for me and I was very happy to achieve it. My students learned to take ownership of their education, to speak up when they were confused, and to ask questions when they felt curious. English is a difficult language to learn, but the most difficult hurdle to get over is one’s own inhibitions. Once they achieved this, they could tackle any problem that came at them.

While I certainly enjoyed teaching my students, what I enjoyed the most was my independence in a foreign country. Everyone should take a chance to leave their comfort bubble at least once. Going to a country that you’ve never been in before, alone, and trying to navigate life there has been such a frustrating but rewarding experience. My internship gave me a lot of freedom outside of work and I took advantage of every free moment to broaden my horizons. And because of that, I was able to foster many lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories.