The art of studying

I started my first course today at the UoPeople: Learning Theory and Implications for Instruction.

So I read the syllabus, learning guide for the unit, reading and discussion assignments details…

It felt a lot… and these are all for this one week…

I definitely need a plan…

So I decided to make a plan, a good plan! well, I was ready, I had already downloaded a study plan from the UoPeople’s community site. I was well informed the fact that a good planning is the key to successfully complete the learning week!

The study plan that was shared within the students’ community!

It is so amazing, how people are giving!! This study plan helped me to have a clear learning week vision ! I felt so grateful…

but I felt like, I needed to arrange things here and there… So I created this, using Evernote app. I was just going to change a few things…

I customized the study plan template for me!

but then again, I wanted more important info on the plan, so I moved onto the google sheet…

Then it became like this…

Before even coming to this point, I spent pretty substantial time to learn how to navigate myself on the online campus… how to take notes digitally, how to use an online library… and so on….

Now I have spent a good few hours trying to make a study plan TEMPLATE! (not the actual van planning yet… )

So now I finally move on to the real reading assignment… 1st page… oh it’s interesting… I should take a note… and highlight… but wait… how??

Now, we can study at the UoPeople 100% digitally. Even all the learning reading materials are from online and from open sources… Yes, that’s right… We don’t need to go anywhere, and we do not need to buy textbooks! They are all online! Sounds so great!

…but then…

As soon as I started my reading assignment, I realized there are so much more to learn how to read digitally efficiently.

To read a book we open a book and then read. To read a digital book, first we download the PDF (or a book), then upload to an app of our choice, then figure out how to highlight, take notes, etc, ete…

I first try to read it on my laptop… mmm not so great… then I tried to read on the google drive… mmm not so great…. You know what I m gonna use kindle! I know how to use that!! So I uploaded my PDFs on my laptop, then downloaded a kindle app, uploaded the PDFs to kindle, then synced my iPhone kindle so I can read on my phone now!

But I did not see my PDF reading assignments in my kindle… WHY?? I tried to figure out how to read the PDF on my kindle…

It turned out that we have to email the documents to our own KINDLE EMAIL! did you know we had kindle emails??

Please read this link to know more how to do it! https://thenextweb.com/news/how-read-non-amazon-ebooks-sync-kindle-apps

After all these hustle I found out I could not highlight my PDF on kindle…

Please believe me I could use kindle, no problem! I know how to highlight, how to look up the words in a dictionary, how to take notes within kindle!! I just did not know those are not the cases for PDF documents… for PDF, kindle could only bookmark… 😭🥺

I am so shocked… how inconvenient… Anyway… after so many hours, I went back to square 1… reading it on my laptop… but at least I finally started reading … !!!

Thinking… So… it’s like the art of studying… Something we need to sophisticate as we go along with…

I … just… do not think… I have enough time to master this art before the due day in 6 days…

UoPeople Master of Education

I am going back to school… for my master’s degree in Education!! aaaand on a scholarship!!

The above sentence includes words that I would not have imagined to apply to describe my situation… “Going back to school” for my “Master’s degree in education” on a “Scholarship” ! Oh wow…

I happened to work for a kindergarten in Japan that happened to be one of the IB world schools. This kindergarten is a little unique because it is a buddhist kindergarten that incorporate the IB philosophy.

In March 2019, I could not go back to the US because of the pandemic… and when I visited my family’s cemetery by this buddhist temple, I ran into the principle of the kindergarten. We talked for a few min. and I shared with him my situation and he shared with me his situation. His situation was that an American teacher who was supposed to come to help the kindergarten to teach English had not been able to enter Japan because of the pandemic… and he was in turmoil of looking for a substitute teacher… and … the rest is a history… yes I started teaching covering his position.

Many coincidence happened simultaneously after that and somehow I received a scholarship from the IB organization.

Voila…I am starting to work on my master’s degree this month! in about 2 weeks!!

UoPeople is a tuition free university… but we still have to pay an admission fee $60 and Assessment fee $240 per class. Total estimate cost of the M.of Education is $3,180 as of January 2022.(and for me I estimate it will take about 5 years to finish… )

Yes it is affordable for many people… but for me it felt still an enormous luxury to go back to school while I could use the money and time to survive today.

but sometimes, I cannot help but wonder… what if…

What if I had a proper education in teaching…

What is I had a master’s degree?

What if I was given a scholarship…

I feel so fortunate to be given this opportunity…

Well.. thanks to this opportunity, i do not have to wonder anymore… now, i just have to do my best…

I will update my journey as often as I could… because it feels online learning takes a lot of self discipline… I need to give myself a bit of pressure, and also would like to share my experience with like minded people and/or people in similar situation…

Thank you for reading my notes here…

I hope your 2022 will be filled with exciting challenging and rewarding experiences.

xoxo

Rika

“Break a leg”?

People say things happen for reasons…

And in English there’s this idiomatic expression “Break a leg !” to wish a good luck… and I learned that the typical response to that saying is “Thanks!”. As a English as a foreign language speaker it felt such a strange expression… I remember I felt kind of offended when I first heard it… lol 😂

Now, combining those two things stated above, what if you really broke your leg… ??

“Thanks!?”

In February, I broke my leg when snow skating… I was carried to a hospital and went through a surgery to fix my bone with 4 screws and one titanium stick inside of my broken bone… I was hospitalized for about a month…

After about 7 months, I went through the second surgery to remove the the metals…

I am recovering from the second surgery now, actually suffering from this massive headache that’s supposedto be one of the side effects from the spinal anesthesia…

Trying to look back my experience… I can easily remember difficult moments… but again … thanks to this broken bone, I gained so many wonderful encounters and memories…

First, I got to spent more time with my family and physically and emotionally felt their love and care … I was so helpless and the support I received was greatly appreciated even more…

Also, I made a new good friend 78years young Yoccchan while I was hospitalized. She was my roommate and I heard her incredible life stories and her stand point of life views… It was like watching a movie imagining her life. I became friendly with her husband as well and he visited not only her but us when came to the hospital.

For my work, as I could not move well, I made my debut in office work… You know those accounting and so on… This kind of work is something I tried to avoid in the past… but is also something inevitable to live an adult life… so I appreciate this opportunity!!

I have to say I am ecstatic that I became friendly with likeminded people in my hometown area… Friends are treasures … I was missing that component here in my hometown since I came back from NYC… If I didn’t break my bone I would not have been in Japan by now to have met them and deepened our friendship.

I cannot forget that I met someone I want to date. It is kind of rare these days. Lol Dating life doesn’t mean happy life but definitely more eventful than without it.

So yes… maybe things do happen for reasons and thanks! To the broken bone ❤️‍🩹✨🙏

Learning journal: IB workshop: Developing international-mindedness

So as I wrote on my last journal, I just started taking an IB workshop called “Making the PYP happen in the early years: Implementing agency”. and here is my learning journal to document my journey. The first week of the workshop, we focus on how to develop international-mindedness in kids, and also we try to define what it is.

Since this is going to be my learning journal, I will try to  write 

“I used to think … Now I think …” 

for my vsible thinking routine as I reflect my learning on.  If you happen to be on the IB journey, I hope you come on the journey with me and share your thoughts!!

“The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect” (IB mission statement).

I used to think the international-mindedness is a mindset that people cultivate through life experience. I used to think it is an attribute naturally develops for certain people, and I used to unwillingly accept the fact that some people will never cultivate that attribute.( In a way, I might have given up trying to convince them.)

I was born in a small town on a mountain in Japan. Though most people are more than super conservative in this town, somehow I was curious about the world outside and went to the US. to study, work, and lived there for more than 20 years… Naturally I learned the international-mindedness in a hard way… and I had believed unless people experienced international environment themselves it is impossible to acquire the international-mindedness.

Now, I have taken the IB workshop about how to develop international mindedness in early year students, I feel not only it is possible to start cultivating it in people, but also I started having a sense of mission to teach the international-mindedness for kids (and  maybe for their parents) especially when they were born in non international environment. Without the education, they would remain unexposed to international-mindedness and will be left behind of this very important subject. They might miss their chance to contribute to create a better and more peaceful world for them.

The IBO defines that the “International-mindedness is a view of the world in which people see themselves connected to the global community and assume a sense of responsibility towards its members. It is an awareness of the interrelatedness of all nations and peoples, and is a recognition of the complexity of these” .

So what can we do???

We have to value kids’ inquiries on similarities and differences between people, then creating opportunities for meaningful cultural exchange and action, and also we need to embrace different languages.

I used to think an internationally-minded person is an open minded person, period.

Now I think an internationally minded person has specific attributes such as 

Great communication skill,

open-mindedness

knowledgeable

caring 

principled 

can think deeply 

uses his or her curiosity and research skills to inquire about the world

thinks and reflects critically about opportunities and challenges

takes action for positive changes (for example, to promote intercultural understanding, foster caring relationships, to care for self and others)

takes risks to further self-development and understanding of others

Fostering the development of international-mindedness.

I used to think I am internationally-minded, but now I think I am not at the end point of that state, but still on a journey of defining, leaning, acting, reflecting of developing internationally-mindedness… 

I could mindfully practice

“reaching out”, to consider how we interact with others, 

and 

“reaching in”, to understand myself in relation to others.

I am in an awe of this realization, this week…

and oh boy… THE•WORKSHOP•IS•INTENSE! lol

Wish me luck…

International Baccalaureate WS

Good morning. As some of you already know I am also a new International Baccalaureate PYP teacher.

International Baccalaureate education is wonderful! and I am taking an online workshop called “Making the PYP happen in the early years: Implementing agency” right now.

It has been a wonderful learning experience but… I’m about to cry because the content of the training is so intense and far beyond the concept of education that I know. It feels especially hard especially for someone like me who is a new teacher and also who made a career change at middle age!!

I have been working as a fashion designer in New York City for many years, but after the Corona pandemic, I found myself working at a kindergarten in Nagano, Japan, teaching English and working as an interpreter in the school office.

It just so happened that the kindergarten was accredited for the International Baccalaureate.

The more I learn about the IB educational policy, the more profound in me it becomes, and I am learning a lot every day, both as a teacher and as a person.

I am now in my second year as a new teacher.

I am very honored that the kindergarten let me take the IB online workshop “Making the PYP happen in the early years: Implementing agency” right now. The workshop started at the beginning of this month.

I’ve taken many online courses before (seminars on fashion, business, yoga, etc.), so I thought it would be easy breezy to take this one as well.

But….

As expected for the credible International Baccalaureate Organization…

The content was very intense. I am having such a hard time keeping up with my studies every day.

I have been living in the U.S. for more than 20 years, and I have graduated from an American university, as well as having experienced social and professional life in the U.S., so I undeveloped my English is, as well as my expressive skills in any forms. OMG.

In this blog, I would like to include a memorandum of what I have learned in this workshop, as well as what I have learned and felt through the International Baccalaureate education.

I would be happy if I could share my experiences with you, current IB students and parents, and everyone who might be interested in this journey.

I look forward to hearing your opinions as well!!

I am very worried about whether I can keep up with the workshop studies though…. I will try my best!

Rika

Can you learn to be creative?

The last post made me wonder…

can you learn to be creative?

Yes? How?

No? Why?

I feel creativity is like a natural spring water… it must come out naturally… you can not force the water to spring out… or can you?

It feels too depressing to say you cannot learn to be creative… because it just is too sad if that is true…

I am remembering those Japanese kids who I used to teach English in Japan. They were 3-5 years old kindergarten students… and they were SOOOOOO amazingly CREATIVE!! every single one of them.

So didn’t everyone start life as a super creative being?? What happened to those super UNcreative people??

Uncreative people must have been creative to start and learnt to be uncreative at one point in their lives… maybe because they learnt to listen to others and stopped listening to oneself…? mmm maybe… ?

If that is how to make uncreative people, then if one learn to stop listening to others and start to listen to oneself… can one be creative again?? mmmm maybe…?

… let’s close eyes… and feel who we are… and start listening to ourselves… to be creative again!!

VOILA! YES!! we can learn to be creative!!

and again, really really the world needs more creativity… to be happier, to be more harmonious,… simply to be better!!

Sustainability = Creativity?

So, I have been one of those who are really really really … like REALLY bad at what Marie Kondo does; throwing things away.

YES Gift boxes, ribbons, old clothes, wrapping papers, and so on they spark joy in me. and Yes I do want to keep them…

I had been wondering why I am like this… then I realized there is a pattern in my thought process when I decide to keep things….

“wow! this is great to make ( ) !”

I most always want to make something out of those unwanted things.

Hooray! the time is now finally accepting this “reuse and remake” concept.

Remake and reuse, such as “upcycling” and “eco-fashion” are not just eco friendly hobbies anymore, they are mandatory life challenges for the world to survive…

I had worked as a fashion designer for a long time, so naturally I love fashion!! yet nowadays I hardly buy new clothes as I find so many interesting old clothes everywhere. With a bit of creativity those unwanted clothes are somethings so wanted again. I find joy of making my own fashion and clothes and love being creative about it… Some people call that sustainable.. wow so trendy… lol.

This morning I got a phone call from a friend who works for a big cooperation in the US, and she was telling me how big companies are now try to learn sustainability from small businesses. I was not sure what they are trying to learn … are there anything to learn actually… ? and if there are, how can you learn how to be creative?

sustainability is strongly connected to creativity…

So if you are creative, being sustainable is not only easy but also so much fun!!!

Just an idea could save this planet.

and this thought made me sooooo powerful and motivated today!! to be who I am and enjoy being who I am.

Maybe I am not Marie Kondo who I admire so much… but I decided to embrace who I am today and see what I could offer through me.

Arigatooo

Coffee culture shock… in Japan

A Grande dry cappuccino,with whole milk, long shot! Extra hot! and Cinnamon on top!

That is how I liked to order my cup at a starbucks in New York! And the barista made it for me without questioning nothing…

Now I ask the same in a Starbucks in Japan and either the barista looked like I just spoke unknown words, or I am asking impossible task to a person who is just working for a coffee shop… the other day some barista who used to live in the US told me there is no long shot available at Starbucks coffee in Japan…

What!? I can not believe it!! (Long shots mean that when you make espresso, you put a bit more hot water to make a shot.) The barista told me they just push buttons to make their coffee so the amount of hot water cannot be adjusted..-

OMG really? Starbucks Coffee!? You are not the same in Japan!! how dare you!?

I wonder if coffee is a local thing… Even starbucks could not offer the same for the world…

Actually, there are a few other things I am shocked by the Japanese coffee culture. Here are some examples…

  • The opening time of the coffee shop is late. Too late indeed.
  • In coffee shops, they often roast delicious coffee beans in-house, and it is not that rare to find out the barista studied the most beautiful method of making coffee… but then they do not offer real milk… they often offer this thing called “coffee fresh” which is just a hydrogenated oil. Yuck!!
  • Their coffee cups are small.

First of all, the coffee drink I know is a drink that we often drink in the morning. The early morning should be the prime time of a coffee shop… but not in Japan.

People line up at a New York’s Starbucks before work. Even ordinary coffee shops start early in the morning. That’s just how it is in NYC…

A little while ago, I was supposed to meet with co-workes at 7 am to go on a business trip together. I arrived the meeting place maybe 20min. to 7am, so I had a bit of time… and I saw a coffee shop there, a well-known franchised coffeeshop Mr. Donut… I walked over to the store to only know it was closed because they open 9am or 10am, something like that… I remember I stood there a few second because I could not believe what I just read… Who is going to buy coffee at such a time! ! ! ? ? And I remember feeling a bit of anger on top of frustration at that time…

OK, now, let’s image google “morning commute in NYC”… here are some pics I found immediately.

https://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/29/post-irene-commuting-tales/

A coffee cup in hand!!!

I am feeling the culture shock … specifically the coffee culture shock in Japan…

And what’s that creamer which does not even need refrigeration and have such a long shelf life … It ’s not milk, what is it then??? Not so sure… so you would still use that in your artisanally hand dripped coffee!?

In the US, it is not rare that coffee shops offer all types of milk… from organic milk to all percentage of fat to … various alternative options such as hemp, cashew, and almond milk.

I live in a Colombians neighborhood where the coffee is their vital culture… the coffee of course is great and the real milk is carefully steamed even in a diner or at a “Bodega” coffee stand in a corner! I must say they know what they are doing!!

And finally, in Japan, just like everything else… the Ordinary coffee cup also is small. Very small…

If you come to New York someday, let’s have breakfast and have coffee in a diner ~. I’m sure you will be shocked but in a good way!

I mirror you… You mirror me…

Besides being a fashion designer, as a part of a lifestyle design, I practice and also teach yoga… Currently I have hot yoga classes in a studio called Zen and Yoga in forest hills NY. Yesterday before my yoga class, one lovely couple who come regularly to my class complemented me so generously… I obviously was flattered, but confirmed that people are like mirrors… because I felt the same way about them… They are such beautiful people… they courageously came in to the hot yoga room, and stick to the practice… keeping open minds and coming back to the mats… and they come together every week. They support each other… I honestly believe the world peace starts with supporting your immediate surrounding first… so I have been admiring their beings and efforts week after week… and I see them getting stronger every week, that has been so empowering…

So when they complemented me, I knew that they see themselves in me also… we mirror each other…

If I tell you that the greatest teacher of all for you is actually YOU… do you believe me?

We all have the teacher in us. It is the inner wisdom…

One great teacher can try to teach 100 people the same thing, but they probably will learn it 100 different ways… maybe some do and maybe some don’t right away. It is really up to the person to learn … but when you did learn, you did it, yourself… not the “teacher”.

I do “teach” yoga every week… but my students are also my teachers… they reflect all my elements, happiness, anger, love, compassion, fears, worries, etc etc…

As it may seem challenging as it is… life is so beautiful… because of you… So thank you those who come into my life….

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