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Fresh Eyes│Kate Bowes





Marcel Proust, a famous French writer, once wrote that "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes."

I think about that line a lot as a teacher of International Communication. What is it that we can discover by training ourselves to look at our lives with a different kind of attention? Many amazing details of our daily lives are lost in routine. For instance, things we do everyday don't seem to be very exciting or noteworthy. We wake up, we eat, we go to school, we go to club, come home, eat, do homework, bath, sleep. But you can and should make time to think about your life and to try to see it with new eyes.

I mean: what do you do everyday? What do you eat for breakfast? How do you get to school? Who do you meet--on the bus, the train, at school? What is your neighborhood like? Do you live in the hometown of one of your parents? Have you family (relatives) who live near you? What kind of place do you live in? Do you live close to nature or in a city? What do you like about where you live? Do you know how to cook? To paint or draw? To arrange flowers, play a musical instrument, or sing, or dance? How did you learn these things? Look at the people around you. What do they look like? What do they like? What is interesting and lovable about them, in your opinion? Look around you and really try to see . . . and be grateful for what is good.

Our late, great Sr. Kazuko Watanabe famously said: "Bloom where you are planted." To me that means being able to feel at peace with where I am; to stand tall and to be bright, to absorb the sunshine, yes, and also feel the rain: to be alive to all that is around me. I try, therefore, to pay attention in the place I am, to really see what lives around me. There are, indeed, many discoveries to be made!

I also think about 'fresh eyes' when I am interviewing students who hope to study abroad. I want to know that they are able to communicate in a foreign language, of course, but I am also listening to whether they have something worthwhile to say; whether they are aware of their daily lives. Study abroad is always, at least partly, a matter of cultural exchange. You must be able to give and take in these inter-cultural conversations and by looking at your life, you will certainly be prepared to enjoy opportunities to share!

I recommend that you keep a journal. If you dream of studying abroad someday, I'd encourage you to keep it in English. It doesn't matter if you make mistakes, but doing this will help you to develop both your cultural awareness and your language skills.

Kate Bowes

reader by Greg Tsai  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (Flickr) 3-31-2017

reader by Greg Tsai CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (Flickr) 3-31-2017