Written by Lucy (Class of 2020, Canada)
“I knew we were lost!” Marah, my roommate from Libya, wails worriedly. I pat her shoulder consolingly, but she pays no attention. “And it’s your fault!” She accuses Ricardo, a student from Ecuador, who is holding the map. I am unable to contain my laughter. “We’re not lost,” he assures us just as our friend Aniqa from Pakistan catches up. “Where are we?” She asks. We had just been visiting the Kiryu zoo up on a mountain, and had decided to walk down the other side. Ricardo claimed it was a shortcut to the spot where our bus was, waiting to take us back to our beloved campus at UWC ISAK Japan. I look around the street, honestly no clue where we are. The hill where the zoo was is now out of sight, and the quiet streets have turned into busy ones with people and cars going past.
Independence – it’s what teenagers are always begging for and the the thing many parents fear for their kids: the day they let their kid out into the world to fend for themselves. Here at UWC ISAK we are taught the gift of independence we have as young adults and the responsibility this comes with. Stop and clean for example – you clean this station or don’t, that’s your choice. But whatever you choose to do, whether you do the job rushed and lazily or put a lot of effort into it, impacts the 200 other students and faculty living on campus with you. We all want to live in a clean environment, so we all put the effort in. As students, we have a lot of freedom. From leaving campus individually and being free to explore, to organizing CAS projects and getting funding to purchase things like ping pong tables with our club budget. We even organize our own assemblies. So it came as no surprise when Iwata-Sensei dropped us off in Kiryu and told us “Here’s a map. Be back by this time. Don’t get lost”. It also comes as no surprise that we ended up doing exactly that.
Now here we were, wandering down the middle of Kiryu on Saturday afternoon trying to locate our bus. Our group pauses on the sidewalk to look at the map once more, searching for a Japanese street name that matches our surroundings. We decide to ask for directions, and using our limited Japanese manage to get help from a kind mother walking with her kids. She happily shows us the way to the spot we show her on the map, and we make it back to our bus with five minutes to spare! Settling into our seats we all laugh with relief and exhaustion, watching the bus pull away from the parking lot just as the sun begins to set.