I took calligraphy lessons alongside Sara and Josie with a local calligraphy instructor for my community involvement project. The calligraphy lessons were around an hour in length. Classes would usually involve practicing a single word until we had a decent feel for the writing process. Though I loved learning how to write with energy and elegance, I was especially fond of the conversations we had with the instructor.
I feel that I have a better understanding of how to ask for help and advice in Japanese. This project has forced me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to ask for clarification when I felt uncertain about an instruction or to share my own thoughts and opinions when a certain approach felt like it was working. In addition to gaining more confidence in my communication strategies, my CIP helped me get a better understanding of the cultural importance of thoughtfulness in Japan. The level of intent that went into the instructor’s every brush stroke or gesture, like offering everyone cough drops when she herself was in the middle of a coughing fit, made me reconsider how I approached my daily life and activities. I found interactions with strangers and public etiquette easier to understand and navigate when trying to follow her example.
I have learned how to navigate social situations in Japanese with greater confidence than I had at the beginning of the program through the calligraphy class. My advice for those looking to take her classes or try calligraphy is to be mindful. Even something as small as taking a moment to think things through, whether it was my next brush stroke or response in a conversation, helped me make use of the language and calligraphy tips I learned.