Hello Everyone from NY de Volunteer (NYdV)
Explore Japanese Culture (EJC) was held on 5/5 in Leaders High School, located in Brooklyn. EJC aims to share Japanese culture to students who have less opportunity to interact with various cultures, to broaden their cultural perspectives and awareness.
The Cultural Fair was held at the school, as May 5 is both Children's Day in Japan and Cinco de Mayo in Mexico.
In this event that explores cultures from countries around the world, NYdV hosted Japan Booths with the help from the Japanese class students of Leaders High School. Kimono-Fitting Booth as well as Origami Booth were held, and we want to share our experiences along with pictures of the event.
<Scenery Around the School>
We gathered at the Times Square-42nd St Station together with those volunteers residing in Manhattan, and headed to the school together in the subway at 10:20am. The closest station to the school is in a residential neighborhood, so it was unbelievably quiet, given it was New York. The weather was beautiful, and everyone was excited as well.
Upon arrival at school, security check and registration were held, and we headed to the library, where the Cultural Fair was held.
The hallways were filled with paper cranes that resembled Ukraine's flag colors.
Inside the library, students were all already well prepared with booths representing different countries around the world.
We started to prepare the Japan booths as well! Displaying the Kimono properly and preparing the Origami…
Thanks to the volunteers, we were able to get set up easily.
The event started at 1:30, shortly after lunch.
The students came into the fair, and many showed interest but too shy to try at the beginning. After some students had fitted into their Kimonos and taken pictures together, everyone showed huge interest and students eventually lined up, to the point where we ran out of Kimonos!
Staff members and volunteers worked as groups of twos in Yukata booths to help students try theirs on. Even at their first attempt, they showed amazing teamwork to showcase the Kimono booth.
We prepared male/female Kimonos separately, but Leaders High School has been making efforts to stray away from gender stereotypes, therefore we decided to let the students freely choose their Kimonos as they pleased.
We were so glad to see everyone fit into the Kimonos very well! We were able to take many good pictures.
We hope this became good memories for the students as well.
Next to the Kimono booth, we had a table set up for the students to try origami. In celebration of Children's Day, we prepared Kabuto (Japanese traditional helmet) and Koinobori (carp streamer) origami for the students.
The students and their sincere efforts were so lovely to see. It was extremely fun and enjoyable seeing everyone doing well.
<After the Event>
EJC at Leaders High School was an incredibly meaningful moment for all of us, including myself. It was a new attempt to participate in an event hosted by the school, but it turned out so well and successful and we received many compliments and praises from all around. Not only being able to spread Japanese Culture to the students in New York was meaningful, but seeing students truly enjoy the experiences was delightful and rewarding.
Students prepared extremely well for the cultural fair, and it was very touching and inspirational to see them being eager in learning and experiencing other cultures.
We want to thank the 7 volunteers who had participated in this event, and also left us these feedbacks.
"It was very enjoyable for me as I've always had interest in Kimono"
"Because everything was already well prepared and planned, it made the experience easy and enjoyable for me."
"It made me realize how much I was tied into the stereotypical ideas, seeing the students and thinking about wearing Kimono in certain ways. It was enjoyable seeing the happy students in their Kimonos their way! Thank you for such a great opportunity."
We were touched by such positive and thoughtful testimonies.
One of the best aspects about volunteering is broadening perspectives and growing personally through new findings through various experiences. It was truly a great and meaningful experience to learn, grow and also have fun.
For those interested in EJC or other volunteer activities, please check out our other blog posts. Also, if you join our mailing list, we will send you information to participate in the next event. We look forward to working with you guys!