Class of 2015
Which teachers played an important role in your time at YIS?
I would say Kashima-sensei, Mr. Johnston and Mr. Noonan played a big part in my life as a YIS student.
I have known Mr. Kashima since Grade Six. I am Japanese but when I entered YIS, I couldn’t write a single kanji. But Mr. Kashima helped me be productive and creative in acquiring Japanese, and gave me the confidence to enter one of the best universities in Japan. Also, he is supportive in everything we do. When our club lost our teacher-supervisors for Refugees International Japan, he volunteered on the spot to save our group. Mr. Kashima also supported our challenges in the club. Being a member of RIJ was an important part of my school life.
I have also known Mr. Johnston since Grade Six and had him as a teacher every year that I was at the school! I always chose to be in his music classes as he was the kindest and most supporting teacher I knew. Not only did he build my fondness of music, but he was also very supportive in my other school work as well. For example, when I felt lost in writing my Extended Essay, Mr. Johnston, who was my supervisor at the time, spent hours with me to formulate what I needed to do for me to succeed. I feel that it was thanks to him that I was able to get an A+ and enter the school of my choice.
I met Mr. Noonan when I was in Grade Ten. He was my senior IB Music teacher. As part of the IB Music criteria, I had to do a solo performance on my main instrument the bass guitar. At first, I struggled in my performance because I always thought the bass guitar as a band instrument. But Mr. Noonan showed and taught me different ways the bass guitar can be played. This kept me motivated and innovative, allowing me to overcome my problems and extend my skills in things I really enjoy doing.
What is your most memorable moment from your time at YIS?
Our Studentainment concerts were fantastic. My most memorable moment at YIS was the Grade Ten Live Aid concert. It was the first time my friend and I performed our first and original manzai (Japanese stand-up comedy). When we first stepped out on stage, most people didn’t know what we were going to do. But our practice payed off and it was the best performance of my life at that point. Making everyone laugh and being acknowledged for our original work by the entire school really encouraged me to be creative and innovative. I didn’t really stand out in class but I always loved entertaining people and I'm grateful to YIS for offering opportunities like this to express ourselves.
What type of sports or non-academic activities were you involved with at YIS?
I was involved in Cross Country, Refugees International Japan, the Dungeons and Dragons Club, and the Performance Club.
Which grade-level or class at YIS would you want to relive, and why? Would you do anything differently?
Grade 12 is both the time I would and wouldn’t want to relive! I wouldn’t want to relive it because, honestly, I wouldn't want to undergo the stress of IB finals twice. However, because that year was the most stressful, I feel that I didn’t give enough time towards enjoying the remaining time in Grade 12 with my YIS friends. I still keep in touch with most of my friends. And despite the inevitable arguments between friends, teenage dramas and gossip, being with my friends gave me the most joy. But it is definitely much harder to relive those days now that we are all on our separate paths. If I can go back and relive Grade 12 at YIS, I would treasure more time with my friends knowing that every moment counts. Lastly, I will leave my favorite quote from “The Office (US)” by the character Andy Bernard. “I wish there was a way to know you're in "the good old days", before you've actually left them. Someone should write a song about that.” -Andy Bernard, The Office (US) season 9 episode 23 “Finale”
Which aspects of your YIS education helped prepare you the most for your current professional and personal life?
I think making presentations in class and the use of the Connected Learning Community helped a lot. The numerous presentations allowed me to gain confidence when speaking to a large audience. In university, not many know how to deliver a good speech and it is honestly sometimes painful to watch. However, as far as I know, professors don’t really take the time to teach students how to get better at presentations, so getting used to them in high school was really helpful.
Also, another shocking experience at university was that not many people know how to use their computers! University students and even the professors tend to use a Mac but it’s scary how many of them don’t know the command shortcuts. But much of the university work is on our computers so I am grateful for having the Connected Learning Community.
Given your achievements and experiences, what advice would you give to YIS students?
My one piece of advice would be “don’t rush it”. If you know what you want to do when you leave high school, that’s great and you should put your full effort into it. But if you don’t know what you want to do, that isn't a problem. It would be worse to rush these decisions because usually you end up not really thinking thoroughly about the decision you made. In Grade 12, I forced myself into thinking I had to make a life decision about what I want to be or which university to go to. I thought that if I didn't make a decision, my life would end, and I would have no future. I also thought that going to university would be the last decision I would ever make because it would determine the rest of my life. But it turns out that that is not the case, and it is yourself who keeps deciding what to do from then on as well. I realized that I have my entire life ahead of me to decide, explore and have fun, and that it’s alright that if don’t have an answer for tomorrow. I honestly think I don’t even understand 10% of what I want to do at the stage I am in life now, and most people don’t either; some adults we look up to are in a similar boat, I think. But I think I’m doing better today than I was before because I’m actually taking time to try to make smart and appropriate decisions. This state of mind also allowed me to purse journalism, an interest I always had, which gave me the chance to come back to YIS to not only interview the school, but to also reflect on my time as a student here. Lastly, over the years I realized that “Dragons” enjoy being relaxed so just be yourselves! There’s a long long way to go in life!