Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we feature Rashon Keys, one of 20 Milwood Magnet Middle School students who had been part of the Japanese Culture Club during the 2019/2020 school year. Thanks to CIS longstanding partner Western Michigan University Soga Japan Center, students interested in exploring Japanese culture had the opportunity to stay after school one day a week to learn Japanese language, songs, calligraphy, origami, and more. CIS Site Coordinator Missy Best connected the students with WMU Soga Outreach Coordinator Michiko Yoshimoto who facilitated the Japanese Culture Club.
When Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids popped in to do this quiz, the pandemic was not yet upon us and singing was still safe to do. On this particular day, Michiko was introducing Rashon and his club mates to the Japanese lyrics of a popular Anime song, “My Hero Academia.”
“This is very difficult,” she told them as she projected a YouTube video on the whiteboard. “We will practice this for several weeks.” She started singing: I keep my ideals alive when destiny calls!
Rashon, picking up the Japanese lyrics quickly, started singing and swaying to the upbeat music.
“Oh, this song is hard. I can barely sing it!” Michiko said, on their third practice.
“You’ve got to let it flow,” encouraged Rashon. “Just let it flow!”
In this spirit of reciprocity, the students and their sensei (teacher in Japanese), ran through the song several more times, their voices and confidence flowing.
Alright, Rashon: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.
What was it that interested you in becoming part of the Japanese Culture Club and what have you come to appreciate most about being part of this club?
I like learning, so I’d say I probably like everything. Yes, everything!
I especially like the people. They are all pretty cool. [Rashon waved his hand towards CIS Site Coordinator Missy Best, WMU Soga Outreach Coordinator Michiko Yoshimoto, and then the entire class.] Everybody here is cool. We’re learning new things here and I like to do that. That’s why I decided I should go to the Japanese Culture Club in the first place.
You’ll have the Kalamazoo Promise when you graduate high school. Though it’s a ways off, what are your thoughts as to plans after high school?
I’m going to go to college and play football. And when I retire—when I’m 25, though I might be 28—then I will go into the military so I can provide for my family in the future.
It might take a long time, though. I might fail in bootcamp. But I can go back three times.
What is a question you’ve asked lately?
Will we be speaking Japanese by the end of this class?
What are you currently reading?
What’s one of your favorite subjects in school?
English/Language Arts. I have Ms. [Carol] Kimbrough. She’s one of my favorite teachers. She’s my sixth hour English/Language Arts teacher…She’s not just demanding to be demanding, you know? She’s demanding in a fun way, in a way that helps you learn.
What is your favorite word right now?
In Japanese or English?
In Japan, it’s the word “above” which is ue.
In English, it’s “Hey, Mom!” I’m always saying that. “Hey, Mom! Let’s get something to eat.” “Hey, Mom! Let’s hang out.” “Hey, Mom!”
Behind every successful person is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?
My mom, my dad, and everybody else that, like them, supports me.
Thank you, Rashon, for hanging out with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids.
[Next week’s post will provide a glimpse into the 2019/2020 Japanese Culture Club. Also, be on the lookout for our CIS Connections newsletter as you will get a taste of some of the virtual clubs that students will have the opportunity to take advantage of this school year.]
Tags: Carol Kimbrough, CIS, Communities In School of Kalamazoo, Michiko Yoshimoto, middle school students learning Japanese culture, Milwood Magnet Middle School, Missy Best, Western Michigan University Soga Japan Center