I am excited for this opportunity to extend my experience abroad by giving back to the community that has helped shape who I am today. As I have mentioned in my statement of purpose; I truly do experience happiness from helping others. There is nothing more fulfilling or satisfying than being involved with my community. Through my service learning project I hope to instill in others, a passion for expanding one’s own personal growth by achieving international education, regardless of financial limitations. There will be two components to my service learning project. I will first reach out to the Alamo Colleges student population relying on financial aid, through emails. I will also promote my event through a K-12 outreach by giving presentations, before hosting an event night that is dedicated to celebrating Japanese culture, for my local community. I will host the first “Japanese Culture Night in San Antonio” located at San Antonio College.
The Alamo Colleges are a group of campuses located around San Antonio, with a total enrollment of about 60,000 students per semester, which offers a large population to reach out to. Upon my return, I will contact the Student Activities Department in order to send out mass emails to students concerning my event. I will keep students updated and informed through links to various study abroad opportunities and financial aid information. I will provide a link to the Gilman website and share how I was able to fund my own study abroad experience through sponsorship. The e-mails also allow me to promote my event by encouraging students to seek financial aid advice by welcoming them to attend my event. This email will provide my personal contact information and links to my blog and other social media sites where I will be posting photos and videos taken while in Japan.
During this time, I will also invite two organizations that I am involved with to participate in the event. I will ask the The Japan America Society of San Antonio(JASSA), a non-profit, educational and cultural group dedicated to seeking ways to make Japanese culture better known in San Antonio. I will also ask the Asian-Pop Society of San Antonio College(A-pop), an organization dedicated to celebrating Asian culture through dance. As an active member, I have access to both, support from the other members, and club funds.
As I begin to reach out through email, I will also be presenting to at least one elementary, middle, and high school. I have inside connections to the Northside Independent School District, through my mother. Being the daughter of one of NISD’s mobile transportation facilitator’s helps to provide me further opportunities to contact local schools. By relying on my advanced computer skills, I will be able to create an informative and creative powerpoint, which will be used to present at local schools, and my event. The presentation will promote the benefits of study abroad, such as earning credit hours, and scholarship opportunities. Presenting to various groups will improve my skills as a public speaker, before I begin teaching abroad. I will edit my presentation to appeal to a younger audience through visuals such as photo albums, videos, and various tangible memorabilia. I hope to inspire a desire to embrace study abroad in their own future education. I absolutely adore children, and am especially looking forward to presenting to the elementary and middle schools. Being able to present them with the idea of international education, and seeing their young minds light up with enthusiasm is a reward in itself. I will also take this one step further by inviting all who hear my presentation to attend my event as well.
Organization is the key that will ensure a successful Culture Night. Although hosting such an event will involve a great deal of planning, this event is feasible for me because I am invested in sharing my experiences, and am very detail oriented. I am prepared to take extra measures to ensure the success of my event. I intend to set aside four months to allow adequate time for the preparation of my event. Through research, I have concluded that the most efficient way to plan for this event, will be to organize subcategories. I will organize a speaking committee which will consist of myself, and guest speakers from both the Study Abroad office, and the Financial Aid office. I will contact the Japanese language professor, and JASSA for possible guest speakers. I will organize a dance committee through my involvement with A-pop. The support of my dance group will provide both popular and traditional Asian dances as entertainment throughout the night. I am considering serving food, and will need to plan a food committee that will focus on traditional dishes that can be made on a fairly low budget such as onigiri(rice balls), matcha green tea, ramen, dango, and if the budget allows for it, sushi. I will need to plan the date of the event early on. I must set the date according to the availability of my guest speakers. I must take into consideration any holidays or religious days that may coincide with the date of my event. I will provide an itinerary booklet, and create a budget to keep track of the cost of necessary materials.
Being able to experience different aspects of Japanese culture through music, movies, art, and dance inspired me to study abroad. With my service learning project I would like to offer others a similar experience through activities that individuals can participate in throughout the night, provided by unique “culture booths”. A few specific booths that I would like to include in my event will offer participants a wide variety of cultural aspects of Japan. One will be designated to exhibiting the pictures taken during my time abroad. A booth where individuals can learn how to write their own name using Japanese Katakana characters. An Arts and Crafts booth where individuals will be assisted in creating their own origami paper dolls and fans. A booth designated to learning about the history and folktales of Japan. I will also include a booth so individuals can learn about holidays in Japan, and how they differ from western holidays. I am excited to provide a booth, titled “Treasures from Tokyo”, dedicated to displaying souvenirs from Japan. I would like to share the concept of omiyage(souvenirs) with my community once I return. In Japan it is custom to provide gifts to peers upon one’s return. I wish to extend this concept to my own community by sharing my experiences. This will offer others a personal connection to not only Japan, but to study abroad experiences in general.
Being able to reach out to my community, by providing them the opportunity to attend an event in which I help to organize will be a personal accomplishment. I am looking forward to the chance to promote the achievement of international education regardless of financial limitations by promoting scholarship opportunities through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.