Michele Li: Doshisha Animal Life Circle

For my CIP, I participated in the Doshisha Animal Life circle with Ryan. It meets every Thursday at 6:30 at the Doshisha Shinmachi campus and this study group’s aim is to enrich their own knowledge on the current situations of animals around the world. But since there were school festivals (Clover Festival and EVE Festival) coming up and free papers they had to finish, their usual study meetings were put on hold to discuss what kind of booth they wanted to set up and what kind of layout they wanted for the free paper. As part of my CIP, I decided to observe if there were any differences in the way they treat foreigners as compared to the way they treat other Japanese students.

Through my participation, I realized that their attitude doesn’t depend on whether you’re a foreigner or a Japanese person, but whether they think of you as a friend or a stranger. If you were a complete stranger, as well as a foreigner, the club members tended to avoid striking up a conversation and preferred to ignore your presence. For example, when Ryan and I went to the first meeting, although they first greeted us with smiles and snacks, as soon as they started to discuss the festival preparations, they turned their backs to us and proceeded to speak amongst themselves. Not once during the meeting did they meet our eyes or try to talk to us. We were left to figure out what was happening by ourselves. This continued throughout the semester. There was another instance when Ryan and I were working with a Japanese club member in order to make decorations for the club’s booth, but it was basically us working in silence. We tried striking up a conversation, asking what last year’s booth was like, etc., but the conversation always died after one exchange. The Japanese student didn’t try to continue the conversation and seemed like he felt uncomfortable talking to us for more than a minute. On the other hand, if you were someone they knew, they would greet you with exuberance and constantly joke with you, even if you were a foreigner. For example, there was a Korean exchange student who was in the club with us, but since everyone in the club was familiar with him, they would constantly chat with him and poke fun at him. There was even this one time when the president of the club wasn’t able to come to a meeting, so she made the Korean student the leader of that day’s meeting instead. Although it was a little disheartening to be ignored after trying to converse with them, it was still an interesting experience to see how the club members acted around each other.

4 thoughts on “Michele Li: Doshisha Animal Life Circle

  1. That sounds so painful! よく頑張ったよ!I wonder though if they were more shy talking to you. In my own team, there were instances where they clearly did not know how to go about continuing the conversation. Still, that was rather mean of them.

    Did the semester start like that, or did it progress into this?

    • Thank you for your comment テムチェンコさん!Haha, I guess it was kind of painful to experience, but it was understandable! As for your question, the semester started off like this and just continued on. I tried getting it to change, but I guess it didn’t work out too well.

  2. さすがリーちゃん!Asking those hard questions, getting to the bottom of discrimination, acting like an old man! I’m sorry to hear that people in the circle wouldn’t open up or try to get to know you or Ryan! Although it was an unfortunate situation, I’m glad you were able to learn that it wasn’t because you were foreign, but because the circle members were quite socially awkward around new people, and as you already know very well, some Japanese people are very friendly and outgoing!
    Was there anyone you felt you were able to make connections with in the circle?

    • イフェ!コメントしてくれてありがとう!This old man is trying her best ٩(ˊᗜˋ*)و
      Yeah, I guess most of my disappointment stemmed from the fact that I knew they were really nice, but I guess they just felt too awkward around me to try. As for your question, if I had to choose someone that I felt closer too, it would probably have to be the Korean exchange student. Even though I’ve only met him twice throughout the semester, he was perhaps the only one who tried to talk to us and make us feel welcomed!