A Virtual Exchange By: Jhirlymarie Lloyd F. Tio, Grade 10

In my memory, Japanese culture has always played such an important role. As a child, I would watch anime with my sisters or on the television. My father bought us a Nintendo DS, and we would play Japanese games on it too. I remember sitting in Japanese restaurants and loving the food very much. Whenever my parents would go travelling to other countries, they would always buy me clothes from a Japanese Clothing store called “Uniqlo”. My school supplies and pajamas always had Sanrio characters on them. My classmates would play with Pokémon cards, Beyblades, and Bakugan toys. Needless to say, I was already surrounded by so many things that came from Japan!

I have been to Japan before. I went there with my family. I always had an expectation because I watched a lot of anime. When we were in Japan, everyone was so different than in the Philippines. Everyone was very polite and minded their own business. They had a lot of trains instead of cars. Their convenience stores did not just sell chips; they sold full meals! The people were very respectful and very courteous to one another. The trains were always on time, and before the trains would arrive, there would already neat lines formed by the commuters without anyone telling them to do so.

Japan was just as beautiful as I imagined it to be. Until now, I am always wanting to learn more about Japanese culture. When the pandemic began, I thought that it was so sad that I couldn’t travel anymore. I thought that the only Japanese immersion I would get was by watching anime and watching Japan vlogs. I was proven wrong when the school announced that we would be meeting other Japanese students!

Even if the Japanese Cultural Exchanges are done virtually, I learn a lot from the students we’ve met with. I learned a lot about the Japanese foods. I used to only know of a few famous ones, but then I learned more about the food they like to eat during New Years’ Day, Christmas, Birthdays, and Weddings!

In the second session, me and my classmates were able to share to them our advocacies for “Anti-Teenage Pregnancy”, and they showed us how they are also lending a hand to hospitals during the pandemic. The students in the class would make PPE attire and donate it to the hospitals.

During our sessions, we also end up talking about anime, which I really enjoy! It’s nice to meet other people my age, but in a different country!Me and my classmates love watching anime. When we talk with each other about it, it always makes us excited, so when we are able to talk about it with Japanese students, we are even more excited!

I was able to make a friend. We message each other through emails! It is amazing how technology brings two people from different cultures together. I always look forward to meeting students from the Japanese exchanges.

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