Why I Chose Japanese

Why did you choose your major?

It was at the age of five when I noticed that not everyone was like me. I suddenly became aware of different customs, beliefs and of course foods. What really caught my attention, however, was language, and I started to explore worlds of new sounds. My explorations began with Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Japanese. I decided to pursue Japanese, initially, for personal reasons. Japanese appealed to me, not just because of its beauty or the challenge of learning an excess of about 4,000 characters. As a fourth generation Japanese American, I felt that understanding the language of my great-great-grandparents would help me understand the place they once called home, giving me a chance to discover more about my family history and therefore discover more about myself. In addition to that personal connection, Japanese is a language that has evolved over hundreds of years and boldly yet subtly expresses a rich culture with every syllable, and it is this quality that adds to its intrigue. I began studying the Japanese language my sophomore year of high school. It was also around then that I decided what I ultimately wanted to do in life: become a teacher. I have always enjoyed learning and teaching. Since I loved language, the obvious subject for me to teach was Japanese, and I began honing my skills and immersing myself in Japanese culture.I joined and had a leading role in my high school Japanese club, where it was my responsibility to come up with something new to present to the club members each week. The connection between culture and language became more evident each day. I was a teacher’s assistant for the Japanese class, and tutored other students in the language in my spare time. I learned a great deal about myself and my abilities. I found that I had to understand a topic completely before I could even think of teaching it to someone else. My skills in the language improved quickly. In junior college, I found new activities to fuel my passion for the language. I continued tutoring students taking Japanese at City College of San Francisco in my free time. I joined a theater group for young adults where I wrote several plays dealing with the Asian American experience. The first play I wrote was called I am Japanese and described my personal life experience; it was performed on stage at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. Since then, two additional plays of mine that address my Japanese identity have been performed there. I want to major in Japanese at the University of California to pursue my passions and learn more about myself. In so doing, I will be able to link American and Japanese cultures through language, usually the most difficult barrier to overcome. I look forward to helping others become skilled in the Japanese language, for cultural understanding and appreciation will be far easier once language is no longer a barrier.

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