Whenever I visit high schools in Japan, Japanese kids don’t stop to impress me. Their quality is just too high considering their age. My experiences with them always contribute to my vision of the kind of education I want Somali kids to have and the way I want them to learn.
This is the third time I’m coming to Tokyo (visiting three schools) to mentor high school students. Assisting these high schoolers is just an honor. Not only do I mentor them, they also expand my understanding of how high school students can and should learn.
The three schools we visited are unique Japanese schools with distinctive educational models. Waseda Juku is one of the best prep schools in Japan; Taktopia is an educational company that offers and organizes study tours abroad; a.school is a cramming school that helps high school students prepare for university. Now, I understand why Japanese kids are so self-disciplined: because they study from 8 a.m. in the morning until 10 p.m. in the evening.
Changing the Narrative: Somalia
But the most important aspect of my one-week stay in Tokyo was conveying the Somali story to the high schoolers. It’s a privilege to get the chance to give presentations about my country, Somalia. Unsurprisingly, the kids don’t know much about Somalia; the only few things they knew is that Somalia is a dangerous area with civil war, terrorists, and pirates. That’s not true, of course.
And I don’t blame them because that’s what the media tells them to believe and the media is just doing their business: fabricate something that sells and gets them money irrespective of its repercussions. Plus, it’s human nature to prefer bad news of good news because “peace” is boring and doesn’t appeal to the majority of people. Therefore, we, Somalis, are the victims of this misrepresentation of our country and we’re paying the price in everywhere we go and in every way imaginable.
Thanks to all the schools I visited, they allowed me to talk to the students and tell them the real story of Somalia. Amazingly, the students couldn’t stop asking me more questions and even wanting to hear my personal story of how I got educated in Somalia and managed to come to Japan. No wonder this time every student wanted to become a friend of mine. I’m not sure but I think they found the Somali story interesting because they have never seen someone who witnessed “war” in real life. War is just a movie story for them.
Now, I won against the media as long as these three schools are concerned. Hopefully, they will pass that “real and true Somali story” to the other Japanese kids.