This quarter I was an intern at HUB Kyoto. HUB seemed like the perfect creative space for me to debut as a functioning member of Japanese society in a friendly, collaborative setting. The HUB “Dojo” is a community center nestled not far from the Doshisha campus in a beautifully renovated Kyoto machiya-style building. I was immediately smitten with its tatami rooms on the second floor and bamboo garden hidden away in the back.
My first move as an intern was attending “HUB Kitchen,” a monthly event that is open to all HUB members. It is an informal buffet-style dinner and forum where people can bounce laughs and ideas off of each other. While there, I was able to talk to a variety of Kyoto natives in Japanese and English, and it was amazing to hear stories of how people ended up in Kyoto or kept coming back. I was able to meet the staff members of Kyoto Journal magazine. After I expressed my interest in writing, we soon struck up a correspondence about how I could contribute to Kyoto Journal magazine as the focus of my HUB internship.
I started off preparing a summary of a Japanese documentary event that was held at HUB Kyoto. My next project was to interview HUB Kyoto staff, and then translate the interview into whichever language it wasn’t conducted in. I prepared my questions and looked forward to getting a personal glimpse of HUB Kyoto’s members and their unique interests. The logistics of this process proved to be quite a challenge. The last few weeks have been an endless parade of me trying to track down people to interview. HUB members are busy people! I scheduled one interview two times, and on the third time when I was sure I would have success, my interviewee simply did not show up. I really wanted to enjoy working for HUB, and if I were not juggling a schedule of KCJS courses and host family obligations, this would all seem less frustrating.
Though I am not satisfied with my output this quarter at HUB, I still think that it was a good experience for me. While it has been a challenge coordinating with the individuals at HUB, these situations have provided me with the opportunity to sharpen my Japanese communication skills (phone calls, emails, one-on-one discussions) so that they are clear and effective. I believe that this very basic correspondence practice will be valuable to me as I continue my Japanese studies. I look forward to a change of pace next quarter and plan to pursue a traditional and perhaps more rewarding individual class, such as pottery or tea ceremony.
Though it looks like your CIP ended up accumulating some unexpected stress, it’s good that you got some practical experience out of it in terms of communicating in Japanese. I know for me I still get nervous just talking to the head teacher at the daycare about logistical details (i.e. if I’m taking a day off) because I’m still not quite used to that type of interaction and only do it when I absolutely have to. Maybe you can give me some tips some time!
In any case, I hope you succeed in finding an activity next semester that suits your interests. がんばれ！
Thanks for the encouraging words! After my experience in communicating with HUB members, I definitely feel more confident in holding my own, in terms of looking out for my own schedule, etc., while still maneuvering within the bounds of kohai/senpai etiquette. Hopefully my CIP next quarter will not involve so much e-mail tag, but if it does, I will be ready!