Kanoko Hitomi Shares Her NSOCO Experience

altNSOCO is a volunteering program for freshmen to know about the Salem community and how to communicate with new people. I participated in NSOCO from August 17 to 22. That was a great opportunity to improve myself. I learned a few things from the experiences that I spent with new people who speak a different language.

First of all, I learned about how difficult it is to communicate with people who speak different languages. In NSOCO, there were only three American Studies Program (ASP) students. Other participants were almost all freshmen and, of course, they don’t speak Japanese. So I had to speak English with them during NSOCO. I wanted to improve my English skills. That was the biggest reason that I challenged myself during NSOCO. However, to speak English every time was really hard for me because when I tried to speak to them, I often didn’t understand what they said and then they were confused. It was the hardest thing for me. I was very afraid of saying that I don’t understand and talking to them. I thought if I say that I don’t understand, they might be disappointed me. They think my English is not enough to speak as native speaker because I am in America, I thought.  I had to fight my feeling that I wanted to speak only Japanese with ASP students every time. I decided that I would try to talk to Willamette students during volunteering because I didn’t want to lose myself. Then after dinner, I spoke Japanese to relax, but another ASP student and I often talked in English as much as possible at that time. After that, Willamette students spoke to me. I was really happy. However, I really understand that I should study and speak English hard because of communication.alt

Second, I learned the system for homelessness in Salem, Oregon is important. The second reason why I wanted to participate in NSOCO is to know the social system of America. I volunteered at a hospitality house for the homeless. Then I knew Oregon has serious problem of homelessness for the first time. There is much homelessness in Oregon. Also, I knew homelessness affects not only adults but also children. In my image of homelessness in Japan, only adult is homelessness, so I got a shock when I heard about it. In Salem, there is a hospitality house especially for families that don’t have a house. Family can live and learn social skills there. In addition, there is a house for youth homelessness. Homeless youth can’t go to school because of their economic problem. They can study, eat meals, and hang out with friends there. I couldn’t imagine that children can’t go to school because Japan has compulsory education. In America, volunteers help homelessness. Volunteering is an important thing to move the system. I want to learn about homelessness and the system in Japan through this experience.

Indeed, I learned that it is difficult to communicate with native English speakers and the system for homelessness is significant. During NSOCO, I experienced many fun things but also difficult things. I was worried about what I should do. I thought that I have to speak English all the time at beginning of NSOCO, but it was really hard. I felt tired and afraid of making mistakes. However, challenge is important to improve myself. I should study and speak English little by little. Also, volunteering taught me about the social system. I can learn new things through it. If I have an opportunity to do again NSOCO, I want to try it.

 

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