Open our minds
Open our minds
"Japan is a nice country, isn't it?"
Many people said that to me when I visited Korea and Hungary. In both countries, I stayed with a host family. We shared many great moments of cultural exchange. Sometimes, especially in Hungary, we went to Japanese-style restaurants. When we were eating dinner there, I heard Hungarian boys say, "Japanese sushi is delicious!" I thought, 'I am lucky. I live in Japan, so I can eat fresh and delicious sushi at any time. But maybe sushi is a special meal for them.' Then I thought more about our country. Japan really is a nice country! There are many beautiful landscapes all over Japan. For example, we live in Akita Prefecture, so we can see Mt. Chokai. I think that Mt. Chokai is especially beautiful when it's covered in white snow.
But, I wondered, "Do we take Mt. Chokai for granted?" Mt. Chokai is beautiful and it is important to us. But we can see it every day. So, we don't appreciate it. I think that it's easy for us to take Mt. Chokai for granted.
It's easy for us to take other things for granted, too. Do you know Malala? Malala was born in Pakistan. Girls can't study at school there. So, when Malala was 16 years old, she gave a speech to the United Nations. The theme of her speech was: "Everyone has the right to learn." But Japan is different than Pakistan. In Pakistan, children want to learn, but they can't. In Japan, all children must go to school until ninth grade, but some students don't even like school! We are lucky because we live in Japan. We mustn't take school for granted.
Food, landscapes, education; nothing is "ordinary" for everyone. So, what should we do? The answer is easy. We must learn about the different lives of people around the world.
Look around you. The students sitting here are students who you met for the first time today. Maybe you will talk to each other. One time, I made a new friend and we were talking in Japanese. Suddenly I realised that my friend was not a Japanese person! He moved to Japan when he was a young child. I was so surprised. I realised that people who are good at speaking Japanese are not always Japanese people. At that time, my mind was opened.
It's important for us to open our minds. We should learn as much as possible so we can stop taking things for granted. Do you know this saying? "A big fish in a small pond doesn't know the ocean." Japan is a small pond. If we stay only in Japan, we can't know the rest of the world. So, we must swim out from this small pond. If we learn as much as possible, we can make a good future for the world.
So, are you ready? Then let's swim!