|Sing Out Asia||
Barrier was my fear
Nguyễn Thị Bích Ngọc
Dear my teachers and my friends in the SOA trip;
I have ever read the book which talks about two of four Indaian spiritual rules. Firstly, whoever you meet in you life is a true person whom you need to meet. It means that when you meet a person, he/she becomes your good teacher whom you should learn one thing. Secondly, whatever happens is a true thing which needs to happen, even the smallest thing. All of these will help you become stronger and better than ever before.
Before I joined this trip, I cannot believe that I could change so much like that. I feel lucky to see a lot of new special friends, new special teachers - they made me change ever before.
My friends in the trip are the most patient people I have ever met. At first, I thought that all of people in the trip could speak Japanese. In the airport, when I met Japanese students first, I felt comfortable because we could talk “ Ohayo gozaimasu” with them. Everything was smooth until I met Thai students in the airport. Thailand student ‘s English was very very good but they do not know any Japanese. I was surprised and I just could understand a little English.“ Oh my God” I said to myself. I came to know on the next 10 days, language would become a frightful barrier of me.
In the first two days, I hardly used English. It means I didn’t talk any thing with Thai students. I think now they realized my English is very bad. The Vietnam participants are ten. So, if I don’t talk in English, my friend instead can speak to them. That would not cause any problem. Now, I feel shame of my thinking at the time. When we went out, we could play and talk with Japanese students so happily in Japanese. We sung songs, danced together but Thai students couldn’t understand us the same as I couldn’t understand their English. It made me so sad.
I now remember the one thing, in the first lunch time together. Vietnamese was only me alone in the table. I spoke a littele in Japanese and Shoko helped me translate it. Dee and Anny later became my special friends. At the time they saw me, they smiled at me friendly. But their questions for Viet Nam‘s traditional foods made me confused. I had got it but difficult to translate into English. Then, they started to talk to Thais and I ate a lot. That was the best way to help me say nothing more at that time.
Everything was so sad like that. When I joined in the seminar, I usually played with Japanese friends. I remember that I voted Dee and Fly - King and Queen of Thailand- to be the most impressive couple when they introduced themselves. They were so cute and very friendly. But I didn’t talk to them because I was afraid. The barrier was not only the language, but a culture.
My first roommate was Azusa, and she is a cute girl and she is a Japanese. We talked a lot and took photos together. The second roommate was Joy who was a very pretty Thai girl. We called her princess. But I felt so hard when I stood in the front of the princess and talked : “Sorry, my English very bad.” Maybe I made her surprised so much because I think this was the first time she heard my English. The fist sentence was not “ Hello” or “ Nice to meet you”. When I said “ Sory, my English very bad”. It means I talk to her: “ don’t talk to me, please.” She said: “ Ok, we can use a body-language.” And then, we could talk just three or four sentences together in the first night.
Everything have a litter positively changed when I talked to my new teacher. He knew that I couldn’t speak English well. But he recommended me that: “We have only way to avoid a war. That is to become friends together. Try to become friends with every people in the trip.” The reason a war had a strong impact on me from the following experience. When we went to the Ancient Temple Quang Tri where 30 years ago, there were 1.000.000 brave Vietnamese dead in 1972. And when I stood in the front of the monument of 7000 Vietnamese student volunteers depart at the time, I was very very shocked. I’m a student, and they also at the time were the same. But I can now go to school everyday, and I can call my phone to talk with my mother, and my father. But they can’t. They must die in the place where they couldn’t see their family.
After listening to the advice of the teacher, I wanted to change myself but I didn’t have any idea that I should do.
At that night, everybody went out and walked along the river. We sang Japanese songs which my teachers taught us in my class. We together danced in the Japanese style, Vietnam style, Thai style and Mr.Kota’s style. Suddenly, I wanted really to have happly with Thailand friends than evever before because I thought that we were not three groups, we were really one team. I realized that if we use only Japanese, we never became really friends. I knew the biggest barrier was not the language. Barrier was my fear.
On the following day, my room mate was Anne who has a strong personality. When I am back to my room in the hotel, I was afraid and I said to myself : “ Oh my God. What should I do now?” I hated repeating chorus “Sorry, my English very bad”, and I hated to keep silent and sleep just like the last times. After thinking a little, I stood up and gave her two pictures which I bought before the trip as smaill gifts for my roommates. In the back of the first picture, I wrote for her in my bad English. “Sorry, I can’t talk English but I want to talk with you.” and in the second picture, I wrote my name and my favorites. I am sure that there are many mistakes but she can get what I mean. Then she looked at me and smiled. That was the second smile since we met. ‘Do you want to talk with me? Don’t worry. You should relax when speaking English. Your letter is very good. I can talk Thai and English. So do you. You are very good, too” She tried to talk slowly and use simple words for encouraging me. I wish I could speak Japanese as good as her English. I really want to say “ Thank you” to your patience, my new friend.
After that, we talked for 2 hours about all things in this world. I don’t remember what we talked about but I will never forget the way we talked together at that time. I used my computer to translate, and painted pictures. Sometimes, we burst into laughter because my pronunciation does not seem like English. I’m sure that she does not know how it means to me. I had so much fun and if only I had one more picture, I would write ‘Thank you so much’ in the back and give it to her.
In the morning of the next day, I feel completely confident to say: “ good morning” with Annie and her friends. At breakfast, I got into conversation with another Thailand friend in English. He asked me about Vietnam’s capital. I explained it for him that before Ha Noi became the official capital of Vietnam, Hoa Lu and Hue used to be the capital. Nowadays, 2 areas are known as “the ancient capitals”.
Mr.Gong – a Japanese friend looked at me with full of surprise and asked me in Japanese: “ Oh, good. You are speaking English’ I answered very slowly, in my bad English, “ Now, you do not talk to me in Japanese. I want to talk with Thailand friends. I will speak English.” When we went by boat in Hương river, I sat beside Dee and talked with him. It is so happy in that journey, I said to him: “I want to talk with you. But I’m afraid of my bad English. But I think people make language to connect people. Language is a bridge, not a barrier. If language is a barrier between us, help me break it.” He tried to understand what I was saying. Maybe my bad English made him feel that I was like an alien. But I don’t care. From later on, we talked each other so much.
I think maybe, for a good student to make a mistake is terrible. But for me, when my English is nearly zero, I made some mistakes with pronunciation and grammar. It was not too bad. Everyone tries to understand and talk together. They are the most patient friends in the world I have ever known. I feel myself so lucky and grateful for them.
It is pity for us to have a farewell party so early. It is the fist time I was given hugs so much like that. Language is not still the most important. We embrace, smile and cry together. Everybody says: “See you again”, not saying “good-bye”. If I talked and shared together earlier, everything were much better. This is the most regrettable thing during the trip. In some way, this is also the motivation for me to change. Now I deeply understand that opportunities may be lost if I don’t say what I want to say. When I meet Anne, Pym, Gac, Dee… next time, I will no longer keep silent and talk to her in my better English.
When I am back to my home, I make a phone call and confide in my father for a long time. In the former days, he wants me to become a teacher. At that time, both of us decided to hang a world map beside the Japan map in my room.
Dear sir, what I want to say may not be a report. It is simply what I want to write to say thanks to Mr.Hatano, Mr.Yahiro and other members in the group, especially Annie, Dee, Gac, Pat, Pym, Shoko.
If from the beginning, my English was not so bad or I tried to talk to friends in English, this journey could not become unforgettable memories and benefit with me so much. Maybe my next report will regard another lesson with another experiences. It is the invaluable lesson I bring for reminding myself: to overcome afraid makes me stronger.
Ha Noi/ 20/03/2013
Nguyễn Thị Bích Ngọc
Different language is not a barrier
Tran Thi Hong Nhung
Dear Mr. Hatano, Mr. Hirakawa and members of the Sing out Asia Organization!
First, I would like to say thank you for all and wish you always healthy.
My name is Tran Thi Hong Nhung. Now, I am studying at The University of the Social Sciences and Humanities, Hanoi, Vietnam.
I know the Sing out Asia is a program directed towards Asia. This program was founded on December 4, 2007. The purpose of “Sing out” is that we have a fundamental change in the consciousness of the people in Asia. Asia is becoming the center of the earth in terms of politics, economics, culture but perceptions of them as leaders responsible for the whole earth is still weak. So Sing out Asia – non-profit organization will foster young people from Asia to meet the needs of the times, consider the operation of the whole earth. This program was organized as a trip in the central region of Vietnam in March 2013.
I’m very happy that my country, Vietnam, chose for SOA tour this year. And I felt very fortunate to get the trust from my teacher; he recommended this program for me. This is the first time I had the opportunity to experience with this program. However, I have to say that I was really impressed.
I’m Vietnamese. But I ever never had the opportunity to learn about the central region of Vietnam before although my hometown is Nghe An – one of the provinces of it. So I was thrilled when this program towards the central region of Vietnam. Our trip began from Hanoi. Main destination of the trip included the provinces of Ninh Binh, Nghe An, Quang Binh, Hue. We went by bus so when we go to any place with beautiful side and historic, we can stop to visit easily.
The first two days we stopped in Ninh Binh to take part in many activities. We have been visiting many places such as caves and temples, but I think main activities in two days to exchange. We had meeting to play the games but I know the purpose of these games is finding out about each other and enhancing intelligence, creativity. I knew about all information of all friends come from Japan and Thailand. Through this program, not only could we understand each culture but also our hobby, personality. Also this time we had performing show. It was a great program to introduce and share each country’s culture. Those games connected us from strangers become close friends. I saw the satisfaction on the face of teacher. The next days of our trip we constantly changed roommates. That is an interesting thing to show that we can adapt and can get along with anyone.
Different language is not a barrier for us because we have so many ways to understand each other. For example, we use body language, dictionary or any other way. I’d felt unbelievable that I had made a lot of friends with different nationalities and different cultures. It is interesting to learn each other way of living and find the similarity and different between cultures.
The next day, we have met so many amazing, interest and fantastic experience during this tour. I am very touched to see that my foreign friends are interested in learning about Vietnam. They had to try to understand, try to learn. It made me more proud of my country.
Especially, I’m honored to know you, Mr. Hatano, a great man. You are very kind and warm just like my father. You talked and shared with me a lot of things. You made me change the way of thinking for the better. Thank you so much.
SOA has changed my lifestyle, my way of thinking. It made me realize that I need to try harder in learning and in my life. I think every encounter is destiny but this encounter is the biggest turning-point of my life before. The biggest thing I got this trip is that I have built up a great friendship though SOA. Now we still contact each other every day. I think there is no other organization quite like this. These trips must be precious experiences for us. Thanks to SOA, my value changed drastically. I’ll be waiting for next SOA’s program.
I love Sing out Asia and the Japanese, Thailand. Everyone are so kind and intelligent. It is important thing between us is not different language, I think it is how we try to understand each other. I will always remember the song “We are one, we are unity” which two teachers taught us. Just eight days together, we are one!
Finally, I’d like to say thank you, Mr. Hatano, Mr. Hirakawa and you guys. I should thank my teacher who introduced me to SOA, Mr. Pham Hoang Hung. I really appreciate your kindness and support. I have no words to express my gratitude. Thank you for giving meaningful memories.
Thank you Sing out Asia! I hope we can all meet again on some day!
Tran Thi Hong Nhung
The amazing time
Nguyen Hung Manh
Dear Teachers and all my friends in “Sing Out Asia”
My name is Nguyen Hung Manh. I am the second year student of University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
First of all, I want to thank for your appearance. I did have the amazing time in my own country with all of you- my new friends who come from various cultures.
Now my major in Faculty of Oriental Studies is Japanese Studies. I have learned Japanese language and culture. I have found out my passion for this major. Therefore, I was very happy when I knew there were some Japanese students in our journey. It was really a wonderful opportunity for me to interact to people who came from the country I like most. Friends who came from other countries also gave me a lot of memorable time.
I did countdown to the day we met. I prepared some small gifts for my new friends. I do not know how to say but it was difficult to express.
Before I met you at the airport, I had thought that Thai friends would speak in Japanese. In fact, they spoke English very well. I used to learn English but my English was terrible.
I felt very happy to have three Japanese roommates. So I do not need to speak in English to them. But in the end, I felt a bit regret, I told my teacher: “I have never lived in the same room with Thai friends”. I wish I had both Japanese and Thai roommates. We could share more meaningful things. I lost some opportunities to communicate in English because my terrible English was not enough to use. I was so sad because the different language barrier, I could not chat to Thai friends more. I understood what they said in English but I could not speak anymore. I told Dee: “I am sorry, I really want to talk to you but my English is so bad, I do not know how to say”. After sharing this thought, I think, I am a silly guy. Why won’t I try to lear English more? The next day, I told Dee one more time: “I think that what I said to you yesterday was very silly. Although my English is not good, I really want to talk to you. Can you help?” I know that practice makes perfect.
In our journey, you and I had a good time together. But I have got expressive of some of you.
Kana is an optimistic girl.
Whenever she said: “Oigioioi”(the same meaning to Oh my God), I could not help laughing. Her voice is so cute. I recorded her voice and set as my ringtone. My parents and my friends are both love it.
Dee: a gentle guy.
He was very patient to listen to me, helped me speak in English more confidently. I felt very easy whenever talking to him. Thank you so much, Dee!
Mary: This is my special friend
Like a soul mate, I shared her a lot of things, my dream, my plan…I hope that if I get a scholarship to study in Japan, the first person I want to meet is you.
My roommate: Gongon, Kota and Koki
It was an unforgettable time together time, right?
To Koki, You will be a best brother because you know how to care to your friends.
At this moment, I think “Can I see you again?” I believe that the second opportunity will come because I have something that has not done yet. I need to buy some ice cream for Kana; I have been not in Japan to be with Mary and Koki. Teacher has not foretold for me yet…I believe we will meet some day.
I will try to improve my Japanese and English for communicating to you more fluently.
At the end, I want to say thank you to “Sing out Asia”. I have experienced a lot of meaningful things when I was part of “Sing out Asia”.
Thank you, our two teachers who always stand by us.
Living in an atmosphere like “Sing out Asia”, students like you and me have a chance to be united. We are really proud to be Asian people.
The time you spent in Vietnam had been recorded in my memories. Vietnam has stored your images in each placed you had visited.
Good luck and see you again!
I was very worried
Mai Thi Khanh Huyen
To Sing Out Asia
Everyone knows that, each trip will bring some useful experiences. To me, Sing Out Asia in Viet Nam in 8 days left me unforgettable memories in Viet Nam students.
A month before this trip, my teacher said that in March, we will have short trip in Viet Nam with Japanese and Thailand’s students so we must choice about 10 persons who will take part in this program. From when I was in university, this was first time I heard an organization named Sing Out Asia. That day, when I went home, immediately I searched this name on internet and I learned more about it and started interested in this trip.
In the words my teacher said, our class will have 10 persons but there are many students who want to participate and the number up to 20 people. So we had to do a game as the lottery, in that, if anyone picking word “go”, she or he will be. But unfortunately, then my teacher said that our class can have just 5 persons and the remainder reserved for the class below us. We had to do this game again. So I think I’m very very lucky because I could join the trip.
I was reassured when our teacher told me that Thai students are also learning Japanese. But when I went to Airport to welcome everyone, I knew that we have to use English for the trip. I was very worried. And as we started the tour, my anxiety was evident. I was Viet Nam group’s leader so I knew about English skills of members. We could speak in Japanese well but only can use a little English. In fact, all of the members have studied English since a secondary school but when we were in university, we absolutely have no opportunity to learn or use English.
As a leader I did not know what should I do. We weren’t confident enough to speak in English. We can used Japanese to talk, to joke and understand a lot about Japanese guys but we can’t do that with Thai guys. I felt that the Vietnamese and the Japanese are a family while the Thais are outside. My mind was actually worse!
When we went out or had a meal, Vietnamese’s students always went with Japanese’s, Thais always segregated together. And then have one day in Hue, a Japanese friend Gon talked to me a lot about the relationship between three student’s groups on the trip. A day before, Gon also talked to Dee about this for 2 hours. So I though I and everyone need to do something to change the situation. I sent a message to Vietnamese students that we have to try to use English to make friend with Thai guys, lets create memories. In the following days, we tried to speak English a lot. We smiled and found pleasure in each other more.
The trip has come to an end. The last day, we went to sightseeing around Ha Noi and in the evening, we had small party in hotel. We had fun dining with each other, given some gifts and talked a lot. When the Vietnamese prepared to back home, suddenly tears falling, we hugged each other and crying out loud. We promised that we will try to go to Japan to study, will save money to travel to Thailand and we will definitely meet again.
From that trip, I know that the most important thing is friendship. This trip give me chance to make some friends and I also understood that language is not everything. Language is a means to convey idea but if you can’t use language well, we still understand each other completely.
To me, this was my first long travel with international friends and I learned a lot of things. I feel more mature and my thoughts have also changed about relationship between people, about my future career and now I know my place. This trip make me want to inplove my English. I want that, for when we have the chance to see each other again, we’ll talk a lot more and understand eachother more than now.
Everyday I miss everyone very much. I sincerely thank you Mr. Hatano and Mr. Yahiro, who sent invitation to us, so we have opportunity to experience, to live a life of community and help understand about heartfelt friendship. I also want to say thank you all of guys because they came to Vietnam and enjoyed each other. This trip also makes me love my country more. I will be hard-learning, hard-working and try my best to make my dream come true.
My friends said that I am lucky, and I think that’s true. After this trip, I had big family. I am proud of them. Just as the words of a song, “we are one but we are different, we from all around the world. We share the same sun, we share the same oceans, we are every boy and gilr, come together and share our dreams. We’ll be among the stars, and WE KNOW THAT IT’S DESTINY, AND WE ARE UNITY, WE ARE UNITY, THAT WE ARE UNITY…”
From Vietnamese girl
Mai Thi Khanh Huyen
I have broken the high wall in my mind
Tran Dieu Anh
After the trip organised by SOA, I have penetrated deeply the ancient Vietnamese idiom meaning “travel broadens mind”. This trip indeed brought me many exciting experiences as well as plentiful knowledge not only about my country (history, traditional culture or something like this) but also the value of the friendship.
Actually, this trip came to me by accident. In that time, I just thought that I would join in a travel through my country and it would be a chance for me to relax, hang out with friends…. I had no idea that the journey would have such a huge meaning for me. In the first night at Ninh Binh prefecture, I was worrying about my English because my first roommate was Thai person, Annie. I thought that there was something which was preventing me from talking openly to her as well as the others. I had just learnt some Thai words for greeting and that’s all, our story was just like this. But in the next seminar day, I understood thoroughly about communication between the alien cultures: There are many ways to communicate with the others without a word, such as body language, drawing, observing… and so on. On the other hand, the seminar let me know that when we are in an alien cultural, there is a lot of strange things but we need to try our best to adapt to the new one. I suddenly remembered my teacher said that: “In students’ life, it’s better if you do something which you are considering it ashamed”. Because of that, I talked confidently with my roommate and the remaining people. The result was over my expectation. It was like I have broken the high wall in my mind to connect with the others. After the seminar, I really had got some foreign new friends. In the remaining days, I had got more friends and more fun. Although travelling by bus was very tired, I think we still be cheerful. I found some interesting things like the Thai way and Japanese way to have meal and it was just different from Vietnamese a little bit. Of course, I still had to notice the others during the meal in order to not be rude and I realised that if I want to adapt to new environment, I have to observe zealously. It was a big fun for me.
The trip would be the most exciting if in the free-day in Hue, my roommate, Azusa had not got some problems. She could not eat almost Vietnamese food and got sick as well as could not go anywhere. At that time, I thought I really worried about her and wanted to do something for her. So it was the reason why I bought her some local food for gift with the wish she would be alright. Besides, the interest of Kota and Chien and the others for Azusa made me very happy and I figured out that “give to get back more”. Friendship is the cord connecting everyone despite the distance in language and culture.
Moreover, the most impressive person to me is Ply. We had just stayed together for 1 night but her fervour made us closer and I really really like her. In addition, in my opinion, the most interesting person is Kana. We had always called her “Omoshiroi-san” because she was very cute when she said: “Oi zoi oi” (Oh my god in Vietnamese). Azusa is the cutest girl, she talked to me a lot about Jpop and something like this. The prettiest one is Haruna, I called her “Kirei-san” and she called me “Kawaii-san”, what a cute conversation! The most beautiful smile belongs to Piim, she is also a good hairdresser and I had chance to see she make the hair for Ply (It’s awesome!). Besides, another Pim is the most spry girl, she was good at drawing, you should see her pictures, it was so amazing. The kindest one is Gags, she helped me find my hat eventhough it was gone. The most admirable person is Dee, he has a very profound thinking. The most beautiful women is Shoko, she always smile and it made me feel comfortable. Annie is the most fashionable girl, she always suprised me. And Mari is the most friendly girl, Joy is the sweetiest, Pear is the most gentle, Tata is really an out-going girl. Phat is the cutest boy, Gon is the most interesting boy and Koki is the manliest. Everybody is the apple of my eye. ^^
The last day in Hanoi, the tears fell down. I had just thinking about the lyrics: “We are one but we are different, we from all around the world. We share the same sun, we share the same ocean... We are unity”
The SOA journey is so meaningful for me. I really want to take part in it one more time. I hope SOA will develop further.
Thank you very much Mr.Hatano and Mr.Hirakawa!
Thank you everyone! We are friends forever!
I love you guys so much and all the Vietnameses do, too.
A very important journey
Do Huyen Trang (Yuki)
In opinion, SOA was a very important journey that helped me change my point of view on many things.
To Sing Out Asia
SOA was an very interesting experience in my student life. Before the trip, I merely expected to improve my communication skills in foreign languages; but in the end, clearly, it wasn’t the only thing that I have learnt.
To be honest, in the beginning I was at a loss. As a student in the field of Japanese studies, I very much appreciated this chance to improve my poor Japanese skills – I could barely catch their words. I had taken for granted that everyone in the trip could speak both English and Japanese as well. However, on the day I first met my companions at the airport, it had dawned onto me that my Thai friends couldn’t speak any Japanese. But their English was simply excellent. I was not entirely shocked by the realisation, just a sense of slight discomfort for I could only communicate with them in only 1 language; while as for the Japanese, if they didn’t what I said in one, I could just switch to the other. Surprisingly, from the very first day, I turned out to be much better with English rather than Japanese. Perhaps it was my 12 years of basic English study before university that came to my rescue, even though here in Vietnam, we only study for written tests, without much chance of verbal practicing.
It would not be entirely true if I were to say the whole trip went without a hitch. Actually, there was quite a few problems that had surfaced. I quickly noticed that Vietnamese students easily got along very well with the Japanese students. Maybe the main thing here was the language barrier. Some people in the Vietnamese group almost could not speak any English, so they were very reluctant to use it. My English was not stellar either. But I also wished that my stories would come through to everybody, so despite knowing the embarrassing trails of mistakes I made, I tried my best to use English most of the time.
Other than language, there was also a problem with cultural difference. Vietnamese are in fact quite prudent and shy. I’m quite an introvert, even amongst my fellow Vietnamese. So when I had to share the room with a foreigner, I couldn’t think of anything to say, save for the common etiquette. And my passive mindset also had led me ignore the situation. And that was which that I most regret.
Everything changed in the night of the meeting. After the meeting, my roommate – Small Pim and I had an exchange of words. She boldly asked me whether Vietnamese students prefered Japanese students to the Thai, for she saw that Vietnamese students and Thai students were quite distant. I was truly shocked by what Pim said, and profoundly sad as well, for this was only a misunderstanding. I tried to explain to Pim that it was untrue, for I was very fond of Thai students, and honestly informed her of the language barrier that Vietnamese students were facing. And she said something that I could never forget : “This is just a conversation, not an examination. You don’t have to worry if you make a mistake.”
We then conversed for quite a while, about both the language and cultural barrier between the two countries. I was very touched by Small Pim for giving it to me straight away.
The following day, I told the leaders and the other students of my conversation with Pim. They were as surprised as I had been. And we were all very regretful for the unfortunate misunderstanding. We didn’t wish for our shyness or inactivity to cost us the chance of making new friends. So we decided that we had to change. I encouraged the ones with little English skills to communicate with the Thai in English, and helped out if there were any difficulty.
Everything changed so much for the better after our decision. I was very glad to see all of us students from 3 different countries could get closer and more open towards each other. And our new foreign friends were truly wonderful.
Now that the trip was over, I really really miss them. There is a saying, “People often regret the things they didn’t do rather than the things that they did”. I regret that we didn’t talk more and how I should have told them how much I liked them.
I also dedicate my most sincere gratitude to Mr. Hatano and Mr. Hirakawa – the people who gave me a chance to become part of this experience and meeting all these fantastic people. I leant a lot about interaction, communication as well as honing my lingual skills, and realised the importance of them all. I thank you, all of you, and hope we will soon meet again.
Do Huyen Trang (Yuki)