As a kid, I was a big fan of anime and manga, but I didn’t have many people to share it with until I met a student who transferred into our middle school from Japan. I saw him reading a Japanese manga volume of a series that I loved. Despite being very shy and introverted, I rushed up to him and tried to talk to him about it. Unfortunately, I was met with a blank stare since he understood no English having just moved from Japan. I wasn’t ready to give up though.
Our school had no Japanese classes, so I bought textbooks to help teach myself basic Japanese phrases and words. Eventually we were able to communicate by using very simple English and Japanese sentences. Through these interactions, we not only deepened our friendship, but improved each other’s language capabilities. By junior year of high school though, he had to go back to Japan because of his Father’s work but he encouraged me not to
give up on Japanese and to visit him one day. Despite our communications being reduced to email conversations, our friendship never wavered nor did my dedication to learning Japanese. I continued to study on my own and was accepted into the George Washington University for Japanese. With the guidance of the amazing professors there, I finally made my way back to Japan in my junior year of college and was able to reunite with my best friend once more. Thanks to Japanese I not only met one of my best friends and some of the greatest people I know, but have also been given the opportunity to work for companies I never would have dreamed I’d be able to work with. None of this would have happened without him or the encouragement and assistance I’ve received from every person along the way.