Personal Insight Question
Please describe how you have prepared for your intended major, including your readiness to succeed in your upper-division courses once you enroll at the university.
My intended majors are Economics and Sociology. I am from Japan, and my country has recently experienced low economic growth due to a labor shortage caused by Japan’s aging population and low birth rate. To tackle this challenge, an influx of foreign workers has been proposed as a solution, but many Japanese do not agree that this is the best course of action. Japan has been known for having one of the world’s most homogenous societies. I grew up without being exposed to individuals of significant cultural or racial difference, but always believed that diversity could improve society as a whole. The United States has a powerful economy and society composed of immigrants of great cultural diversity. To learn more about how a system like this functions, I decided to study in the United States.
In a communication studies class at my community college, we discussed topics that included religion, education, government, and politics. The classroom setting consisted of students of various races, backgrounds, and values, and I was always fascinated by the great difference in opinion between individuals. Students were encouraged to express their thoughts, even if they differed greatly from their peers. This was in stark contrast to my education in Japan, as the cultural norm is to first think of how others feel, and to suppress your opinion if it comes at the risk of offending someone else.
I believe an individual’s opinion and unique background are strengths. Different perspectives, if voiced, can inform and benefit society. A diverse society allows exposure to individuals with unique perspectives, and in a broader sense, is transformative in creating a powerful and prosperous economy. My experience studying in America and Japan has helped me gain perspective on how societies function, and I plan to continue to develop my understanding while in university. My goal for the future is to become a professor to help people understand the value of diversity and to contribute to the success of the Japanese economy and society.
Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
As an international student from Japan, I wanted to get people interested in Japan and support other Japanese students who are studying abroad, as I know the challenges that they face. After starting my college life in the U.S., I ran for an officer position in the Japanese Student Association (JSA) to support Japanese and international students. I was soon elected vice president and treasurer of the student association.
JSA was inactive for over a year and had only recently restarted, with just a few students in the club. We decided to create an entirely new JSA. In the officer meeting, I proposed to hold events to provide students with opportunities to interact with each other, and make new friends. Many Japanese and international students often experience great hesitation when speaking in English, and it is difficult for them to make friends, especially with Americans. I proposed a sports festival where teams could compete in activities such as tug-of-war and volleyball. By choosing team-building activities, I believe it is easier for the students to become friends. I proposed that the club could also provide students with resources and opportunities to ask questions related to classes, major, and transfer requirements. This would be helpful, as students often do not know which university they want to transfer to, and which major to select while at community college. Additionally, this would allow Japanese students who do not yet have the confidence to speak in English to ask us in Japanese.
We held events where Japanese students, international students, and American students could interact with each other beyond cultural differences. In this setting, they could share their own cultures, values, and traditions with one another. Furthermore, we introduced Japanese culture to non-Japanese students by taking them to Japanese food festivals, holding language exchanges, movie days, and by playing traditional Japanese games. Through these activities, we were able to positively influence our community college by helping to create a new, more successful JSA that could continue to unite many students as a community.
What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
My greatest skill is not being afraid of the unknown. When I was a student in Japan, I was the type of person who was fearless and confident, but upon reaching the U.S., I felt that I had somehow become shy. I realized this was due to my limited command of English. It was as if I had become less of a person, trapped in my native language. However, I felt that this was something I could change. Shortly after reaching the U.S., I called my father and spoke of my frustrations. He reminded me of a proverb in my family I learned when I was a child, “if you do not act to change yourself, nothing is going to change, and you will not achieve your goals.” He helped me realize that it would be possible to advance my proficiency in English while at community college by being proactive and taking massive action.
My father’s words helped me overcome my lack of confidence, and take life as a challenge. Even though my English was not perfect, it could be improved if I stopped wasting valuable time being scared, and took it upon myself to change. To tackle this problem, I joined a volunteer club, which helped me transition to an environment where students speak only in English. I participated in as many volunteer activities as possible, even during the summer. Through these activities, I made friends with many American students, which gave me more confidence speaking, and improved my English significantly. I was exposed to people of various cultural backgrounds, which gave me more opportunities to learn about the diversity of American society.
With this experience, I took on more challenges, including running for student government and a JSA (Japanese Student Association) officer position. Through these actions, I was able to gain more out of my life in community college, and by taking massive action, I was, in turn, preparing myself for the challenges I would soon face once I transferred to a university.