Monday, October 17, 2011

Shall we dance?

I am taking swing dance classes. It has been about a year since I started. It is a drop-in class with $5 for an hour, and it is held once a week. Partners rotate in the class and we do not need to bring a partner. So it is a good deal.

The first time, my American friend brought me to the class. That time I had no idea what swing dance was, and I never had done any kinds of dance before. It was a beginner’s class, so I thought it would be ok. But I was really nervous. First of all, I (like most Japanese) am not used to physical contact with other people like shaking hands or hugging, so I felt somewhat embarrassed when I got paired. But I got used to it quickly. Second, I had trouble with listening and I did not understand what the instructors said. Once, the instructor said “…..raise your right hand” so I raised my RIGHT hand. But I looked around and I found that all female raised LEFT hands and my friend (she) waved her left hand to me. I understood the instructor said “ ladies, raise your LEFT hands, and guys, raise your RIGHT hand” . I was embarrassed. I still find it difficult to understand everything they say, but I can learn from watching them.

Now I am not nervous and I really enjoy swing dance. I moved to an intermediate class. But my goal is not to be a professional dancer. The class is good for practicing English and for interacting with many American people. And most important thing is I am enjoying it!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I had a discussion on the topic below, when I took an English class before. I thought this topic was easy at first, but I learned that this question depended on American culture and mindsets.

== (the discussion topic) ============================
You will be part of a committee which has been assigned the task of creating an evaluative point system for the admissions of undergraduates at a large university.
Using a 100-point scale, decide on the criteria to be used for evaluating students and then assign a number to each category.

Now my idea is:
Test score 30
GPA 20
Personal interests and achievement 15
Extracurricular activities 10
Underrepresented geographic area 8
Race and ethnicity 8
Athletics 5
Work experience 2
Family income 2
Alumni relationships 0

What do you think? Can you tell me your idea?

When I prepared the answer this question by myself, I assigned the most points to “Test score” and “GPA”, because academic excellence is most important. And I gave just few points to “Geographic area” and “Race and ethnicity”, but I did not give any points to “Family income” and “Work experience”.
In fact, students are evaluated only by “Test score” in Japan.

But I discussed it with a couple of Americans, and I found out that my thinking was from a Japanese perspective. They said that we should take “Geographic area”, “Race and ethnicity”, “work experience” and “(low) family in come” into consideration, even though academic excellence is important. They said it was because these things would increase “Diversity”.

Diversity? Why is it so important? I was confused.

Japan do not have big diversity and Japanese people do not think about diversity. And they feel comfortable when people who have similar characteristics and abilities get together. From this discussion, I learned that America is very diverse and Americans emphasized diversity.