Brooklyn College Japanese Language and Cultural Society (JLCS) surprises and shares tales of adoration for both the Japanese language and culture with “Keirō no Hi” or “Respect for the Aged Day.”
Members of the JLCS were in high spirits upon seeing one another again in JLCS’s first meeting of the Fall semester with some members uncertain what the occasion might entail.
“When my second grade teacher came back from Japan with all these experiences and this new language, I was like “Oh my God I want to go there myself,” said Alum Nirvana Ganpat, explaining her age-long interest in learning of Japanese culture and traditions.
The club, which prides itself on its mission to raise awareness and engagement from students with the Japanese language and culture, boasts a considerable range of non-native Japanese members of JCLS, most fixated with some particular facet of japanese life and society such as entertainment or culinary.
“Why I got into Japanese culture was not because of anime or manga like most people here,” said JLCS President LaClaire Robinson, adding that “growing up in Saint-Vincent, my moms coworker and my music teacher were both Japanese which I thought was so cool and different that I wanted to study their culture since everyone else in Saint-Vincent basically looked like me.”
Not seeking to discredit the motivations some students had, Robinson acknowledged that regardless of reason(s) students might have to join the club, they were welcomed, but insisted that members took the task of learning the culture with exceptional seriousness.
Organizers motioned attendees around a projector where they gained their first introduction into the holiday that commemorates elderly individuals with visitations and gifts on the third Monday of September in Japan.
Following the insightful video, organizers looked to form a study circle to discuss the holiday and personal experiences of students sharing acts of kindness to elderly persons around them.
Organizers facilitated this discussion with one caveat- speakers must speak in Japanese, reaffirming JLCS commitment to its root mission of trying to engross students in Japanese culture to the extent of gaining practical understanding of it.
“My grandmother’s birth certificate has a mistake that says she was born on the 27th when she was really born on the 29th, so celebrates her birthday really two days early,” LaClaire shared both in Japanese and in English after translating to students not so fluently in Japanese, before encouraging them to share their own stories.
After some time the meeting began to transpire into off-topic discussion concerning which popular anime may or may not have been terrible in the eyes of longtime members of the “Anime” club in attendance, arousing good natured humor that JLCS organizers enjoined rather than shutdown.
“I really enjoyed the conversation because I mostly study on my own and it is nice to speak to others in Japanese and be understood” reflected Devante Middleton, a senior, computer science major and JCLS Vice-president, delightful of the day’s turnout.
Later adding “I feel a strong sense of community here now.”