At the beginning of this semester I was extremely apprehensive when we were told that we needed to participate in a Community Involvement Project. I was terrified of the notion that I would have to carry on a conversation in Japanese without the assistance of a professor or textbook to tell me what to say and when. On top of that, I was at a loss for how I was going to fit another appointment into my already hectic schedule.
The first day of ballroom dancing had me extremely anxious and I was not sure what I would say after I introduced myself to the group. However, my fears quickly dissipated as everyone began to introduce themselves to me. No one seemed to care that I was a foreigner; they all wanted to know where I was from and what I liked to do besides ballroom dancing. The best part was that even when I struggled with a sentence everyone did their best to help me express what I was trying to say and kept the conversation going. That first afternoon of practice showed me that I could hold a conversation in Japanese and gave me a lot more confidence in my speaking abilities.
Since that first encounter, I have gone to lunch with most of the ballroom members at least once and gotten to know a lot of them really well. I know that my Japanese is not perfect and I will probably practice for the rest of my life without getting it perfect but I have had a great time getting to know some fellow college students on the other side of the world and I hope to keep in touch with them when I return to the U.S. What I thought was going to be my least favorite part of this semester turned out to be the part that I enjoyed the most. I could not wait to leave politics class on Wednesday nights and go dancing. I also loved getting up early on Saturday mornings (which is blasphemy for college students) just so I could make it to practice on time and get to go out to lunch with everyone afterwards to discuss everything from our favorite professors to Pokémon.