In the spring semester I found it rather difficult to find a regular Community Involvement Project, which I think had a lot to due with the timing. Japanese student groups were not meeting much over their spring break before the new school year started in April, but the Japanese teachers were really helpful and usually went out of their way to find something interesting. Throughout these past few months I’ve been going to arts-and-crafts project groups, with a focus on origami.
A few times I participated in going to the KIXS meetings (Kyoto University International Exchange Society) where I would mingle and chat with Japanese students. But as school went on break, less and less people attended. The most fun I had at a KIXS conversation table was when we all went to dinner together. The conversations flowed the best while we were gathered around good food, and there was lots of talk about upcoming plans for the break or graduation.
What ended up becoming my ‘main’ involvement project was attending origami circles. The first time my friends and I dropped in on a Kyoto student group, the atmosphere felt very awkward. The students didn’t have much of a plan and so we each created individual projects without much involvement as a group. Different origami meetings were held at the Kyoto Station, with a much better structure and lots of friendly people. Everyone was sweet and willing to help with any difficulties anyone had with folding.
Though I have to say my favorite group/circle that I’ve attended so far has to be the manga club. I felt like I fit in with the people there and had a lot of interests in common which made us all want to interact with each other. We all got to see one another’s art styles or portfolios, and even got prompted to draw caricatures of each other!
All in all, interacting and having a common interest with these Japanese groups made me feel really happy that I got to be involved. I feel like I accomplished one of the very things I really wanted to do in Japan, without knowing that I really wanted to do it. And through these circles and groups and clubs, I really felt like I made friends and communicated with the Japanese community.