Panthers of ISKL #221: Yuna Y. (‘24) – The Sociologist

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Panther of ISKL Yuna

“In my GOA Global Capstone project, I analyzed the challenges that certain ethnic minorities have faced in Japan and how the government addresses these issues. This topic reflects my unique experience living in a multicultural country. It’s a great honor to be nominated for the showcase, and hope people will find my presentation interesting.”

Meet Yuna Y. (’24), whose Global Capstone Project was included in the Global Online Academy (GOA) ‘s Catalyst Exhibition Showcase. This showcase features student projects from around the world nominated by GOA’s faculty as noteworthy projects. Yuna’s project analyzed the challenges that certain ethnic minorities have faced in Japan and how the government addresses these issues.

Yuna’s GOA Japanese Language Through Culture III teacher, Ms. Yoko Hotta, had this to say about Yuna’s presentation: “Yuna’s perspective and analysis are clearly communicated. Information is well synthesized from various resources. She chose a topic reflecting on her unique experience living in a multicultural country, moving from Japan. Her writing displays great enthusiasm, expressed through several specific examples, both about the topic generally as well as her personal perspectives on it. Yuna also displays her strong Japanese ability in her Japanese part of the presentation.”

Having recently graduated from ISKL, Yuna plans to pursue cultural studies and sociology in her home country of Japan.

Here is Yuna’s story:


 

Do tell us more about yourself

My name is Yuna, and I’m Japanese. I was born in Japan and spent 13 years there before moving to Malaysia in 2018.
I’ve lived in several places in Japan, such as Nagoya and Tokyo, yet moving overseas was a big transition in my life.

Yuna with ISKL Japanese Community

Which grade did you join ISKL?

I attended a Japanese school in KL for three years and joined ISKL in January 2021 in Grade 9. It was during Covid, and I still remember how much I struggled with the anxiety and awkwardness of the new environment. ISKL was my first international school, totally different from my old school. I was even surprised when teachers were eating during the class because snacks in Japan are usually not allowed at school!

Congrats on your Capstone Project being included in GOA’s Catalyst Exhibition Showcase. What was your project about? How did you feel when you found out you were nominated?

In my project, I analyzed the specific challenges that ethnic minorities —such as the Ainu or Zainichi Koreans— have faced in Japan and how the government addresses these issues. I chose this topic to reflect my unique experience living in a multicultural country, moving from Japan. It’s a great honor to be nominated for the showcase, and I hope many people will find my presentation interesting.

It is said that Japan is a homogeneous country. This could be true because more than 90% of the population is Japanese. However, some other ethnicities are hiding their identities to avoid discrimination. As I’ve seen the coexistence of multiple cultures in Malaysia, the reality of ethnicity in Japan needs to be improved.

Which co-curricular activities at ISKL did you participate in? Please describe them.

I have participated in The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Chin Community, and Amnesty International, and I am currently the president of the Japanese Culture Club. As the president, I have been able to share Japan’s unique culture and customs through fun activities.

In addition to clubs, I was involved in IASAS Cross Country and Dance. Being part of the IASAS team was a great opportunity to embrace a common passion. Although I have participated in several running events, I have never tried cross country, and the IASAS invitational in Thailand was my first time running ​​over mountain trails.

Yuna Y. with the dance crew

IASAS Cross Country Team

What are your plans for after you graduate from ISKL?

I plan to pursue cultural studies and sociology in Japan.

Can you tell us more about your other hobbies and interests?

I love traveling and have visited many countries during my six years in Malaysia. ​​ It’s about experiencing new cultures and breathtaking landscapes, which always bring me new perspectives. I also love making an itinerary, time schedules of restaurants and spots, and a map marking everything. The excitement of imagining what it will be allows me to escape my ordinary routines.

Do you have any thoughts on your career pathway?

I would like to work in a Japanese multinational company where I can observe which aspects of Japan are highly demanded and which are not well known in the world.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I hope and dream to spread Japanese moral values, craftsmanship, and hospitality and immerse people in this unique culture.

Through my years in Malaysia, I found that culture is not only about food, heritage, and traditional art but also about people living there. In Malaysia, most people, including the servers, drivers, and shopkeepers, are genuinely friendly. I was confused about why they were so close to customers, as Japanese clerks must be polite and subservient. As the saying goes, “The customer is God,” but then I understood that it is their culture that I should accept. I now enjoy talking with them and love their friendliness.

Japan’s unfailing hospitality and politeness may seem excessive. Although it could bring discomfort, this is what makes Japan so unique. I hope people will become tolerant of any aspects of Japanese culture, including things they are not used to.

Who or what inspires you or has influenced you?

When asked about a person who inspires me, I used to think of my older sister because I used to do everything my sister has done. When she got a good grade at school, I wanted a better grade than her. When my parents bought something for her, I asked them to buy the same one for me. However, as I got older, my decisions and choices became more independent from her.

Most memorable moment at ISKL?

ISKL allowed me to challenge new things, and there are many defining moments here, but I will always say the best is the IASAS Dance. I was part of the team for three years, and ISKL hosted 2023’s IASAS Culcon, the first convention after Covid.

We were incredibly busy during the season as we practiced daily, including mornings and weekends. However, I will never forget our time together as a team. Performing our piece on the home stage was unforgettable because I showed all my efforts and hard work to my teachers, family, and friends.

My last IASAS Culcon was at the International School Manila (ISM), and we traveled to Manila. Every memory I made with the team, from daily practice to team bonding, is memorable and unique.

What does “Know yourself, care for all, and create a better world” mean to you?

I have learned that “Knowing yourself” is the first step in finding one’s identity and what one wants to pursue throughout one’s lifetime. After recognizing our strengths and weaknesses, we can figure out how to use our traits for good. This will connect to “Care for all,” which means being inclusive and understanding people with different values and perspectives.

Ultimately, acknowledging and accepting differences will make a community more comfortable for everyone, and I believe this will create a better world.


 

Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

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