by Shigeru Chiba
I have a dream. I have a dream of becoming a leading doctor in the world who works for a lot of patients beyond national borders. This summer, I attended Summer English Language Courses in University of California, Berkeley, and I believe this was the first step forward realizing my dream. I had a great time in Berkeley, thanks to both highly cultured professors and brilliant students from all over the world.
The course I took had two classes. The morning class was “California Culture,” and the afternoon class was “Academic Vocabulary,” and both of these classes were well prepared.
In the morning class, we learned various aspects of California culture. In the first week, we focused on the topic of “Culture, Dreams & Innovations.” We learned that California is a place where people are free to pursue their dreams and a wide range of innovations have occurred especially in Silicon Valley. In the second week, we moved to the topic of “Diversity, Immigration & Multilingualism.” Through reading materials and some videos, we learned California culture has not been formed by people of a single race, but by Native Americans, Mexicans, Asians and others. I myself did a presentation about how and where we can appreciate diversity in California, and this experience gave me a sense of achievement, which I could not get in Japan because in this presentation I had to cooperate with some group members from China. In the final week, the topic was “Nature & Environment.” Our professor, Ms. Netta Avineri showed some examples of a Japanese poem, haiku, and we worked on composing a haiku, in which we tried to admire the beautiful nature in California. This “California Culture” class made me realize not only what California culture is like, but also the fact that culture in our world has amazing variety.
On the other hand, Academic Vocabulary class was focused on how we should write, speak and read in an academic situation. Like the morning class, this class was for students learning English as a second language, but some students in this class were living in California and they were able to speak English as fluently as native speakers. In the first week, I had difficulty in keeping up with these students and other Chinese students, who are very good at expressing their opinion in English. In every class time I had opportunity to discuss the contents of reading materials with such brilliant students, so after class I spent hours preparing for the next class, and eventually I could enjoy this demanding discussion to a large extent. Our professor, Ms. Teri Crisp was a highly educated person, and she taught us various tips for acquiring academic vocabulary. Above all, she guided us to making vocabulary cards, which were really helpful for retaining new words. We had various topics in this class, and the most memorable topic was “the pleasure of eating”. In connection with the topic, we went on a field trip to Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley. This middle school has one acre garden, where students can learn how the natural world sustains us, eating the vegetables and crops they are growing. After visiting Edible Schoolyard, we went to Farmers’ market and enjoyed seeing various organic fruits and vegetables sold at many stores.
Out of class, I traveled around the center of San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Yosemite National Park with friends I met in Berkeley. And after this summer session finished, I visited San Diego, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon National Park. It was really fun to have conversation in English with friends and local people, and I learned new words and phrases from them. I believe this experience in and out of class will definitely help me approach my dream, as communication with people in foreign countries will be necessary to realize my dream.
I don’t think coming true is the only purpose of a dream. Now having finished my summer school in Berkeley, I have come to think we have another important purpose of a dream, which is to keep moving toward our goals and share the process with all the people whom I have met in our journey to a dream. In fact, I was excited to hear students from all over the world talking about the future, like how the world will change, what kind of profession they will take and how we can contribute to this change in the world. I’m really looking forward to meeting them someday and talking together about our journey. Until then, I would like to show gratitude to them by making an effort to keep going for my dream.
To conclude my report, I would like to thank Friends of UTokyo for offering me scholarship to attend this wonderful summer session in UC Berkeley. There are so many unforgettable memories in California. I’m hoping that someday in the future I will return to this fantastic place and continue my great experience.