Socials 2K19 Blog Post #4: Independent Novel Speech – Sir Arthur Currie

“When the morning of the 9th came, its calmness and mildness gave place to cold, squally showers of rain and sleet which chilled to the bone; and at 5:30 a.m., exactly on time, as the light of dawn was quietly seeping through the storm, the barrage came down. The Battle of Vimy Ridge had begun” (152). Hugh M Urquhart’s Arthur Currie: The Biography of a Great Canadian portrays the struggles and achievements of Arthur Currie. Through Urquhart’s narrative, Sir Arthur Currie reveals that to be Canadian means to favour ability over background and being capable even in the face of adversary.

Arthur Currie was born on December 5, 1875 in Napperton, Ontario. He did well in school and eventually became schoolmaster of a local elementary. His successes would soon end, however. Currie’s health took a turn for the worse when he was hospitalized for multiple weeks. But, he would not give up. After his recovery, he quit his teaching job and pursued a life in the Canadian militia. Opportunities were limited there, but when the Great War broke out, the Canadian military rapidly expanded. Currie was quick to act and rose through the ranks of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, eventually becoming commander of the 1st Canadian Division.

Even as commander of a division, Currie found himself constantly fighting against the rigid hierarchy in the Canadian military. When General Hughes, superior of Currie, “pressed for the early return (…) of all British staff officers” in order to “have the Canadian Corps become a national force,” Currie immediately opposed (118). For Currie, whether an officer was British or Canadian did not matter. He wanted his officers to be competent and suited to the post. Furthermore, the Canadian division was at a pivotal point of the war; Currie feared that the dismissal of his British officers would create unnecessary casualties. That day, Currie showed his superiors that background did not matter. As long as one possessed skill, one would be given a post deserving of their ability in the Canadian division.

When the day of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, arrived, the French, the British, and even the Canadians themselves were doubtful. The British failed to capture the ridge. The French suffered 150,000 casualties before needing to be relieved. For Canada to capture the ridge was unthinkable. Even Currie himself was fearful, but he knew he couldn’t falter. He kept morale high and ensured his division would have proper artillery support. At the very least, he wanted there to be as little sacrifice as possible. His work was not in vain. When the last shots finally dimmed out, Currie’s division remained standing victorious with few casualties. It was a different story for the British. The “British Battalion to the immediate right of Currie (…) had lost all its officers, except a second lieutenant” (182). When Currie and the Canadian divisions emerged victorious, the European powers saw that Canada was more than a mere part of the British Empire. Canada was seen as a capable, independent force. While not equal in population to the likes of Germany, France, or Britain, the powers saw Canada as an equal in tenacity, a country that would stand tall even when facing a mountain of challenge.

Today, the definition of what it means to be Canadian is a rather vague topic to cover. With a myriad of different ethnicities and thousands of miles of mountains, plains, and tundra separating one province from the other, it seems as it there isn’t one Canadian identity at all. However, through reading Hugh M. Urquhart’s Arthur Currie: The Biography of a Great Canadian, we come to realize that despite our geographic differences, the collective history of our predecessors, such as Arthur Currie, gives us a unique and constantly changing Canadian identity that we and thirty-six million other Canadians can stand behind. Today, tomorrow, and every day onward.

Socials 2K19 Blog Post #3: John A. Macdonald, Canada’s Great Son

Jerome Cho

Mr. Morris

Humanities 10

May 8, 2019


John A. Macdonald: Canada’s Great Son


John A. Macdonald dominates the face of Canadian confederation. His achievements in creating a nation extending from sea to sea makes him a common face, even being portrayed on the Canadian ten dollar bill for almost five decades. Recently, however, some Canadians started to take a different perspective on this founding father. According to a survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institution in 2018, “one-in-ten (11%) [Canadians] say [Macdonald’s] name and image should be removed” (“In Debate Over”). Critics claim his discriminatory policies towards Indigenous and Chinese peoples makes his name undeserving of the public eye, while supporters claim the opposite; his leadership as Canada’s first prime minister and nation builder triumphs his faults. Despite polarizing views on John A. Macdonald’s policies and actions, Macdonald’s name should stay. His undeniable role in keeping Canada afloat through his ambitious railway, and his leadership in maintaining cordial relations between French and English-speaking Canadians, makes Macdonald’s name more than deserving to remain in the public sphere.

“Without the Canadian Pacific Railway, there would be no Canada” (Topechka). The Canadian Pacific Railway, a key component of Macdonald’s ‘National Policy’, was a railway “built to unite the new nation of Canada” (“The University of British Columbia”). De jure, Canada after confederation was one country, but in de facto terms, rough terrain and thousands of miles of uninhabited land separated the western provinces from the east. Through creating a method of transportation between the parallel extremities of Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway not only connected the distant provinces economically, but also connected the countries culturally. Through allowing easy transportation for Canadians on both sides of the country, the railway allowed the provinces to develop a common national identity. Furthermore, the Canadian Pacific Railway allowed the federal government to put down rebellions that threatened the integrity of Canada. “When Louis Riel launched the Red River Rebellion, it was the CPR that brought troops in” to put down the resistance (Topechka). Without the ability to quickly move government troops to enforce control in a vast country, Canada wouldn’t be able to maintain such a large country united under one government, causing the country to be broken up into multiple different states, if not absorbed into the United States amid the turmoil. Hence, for orchestrating the unity of Canadian provinces through the creation and maintenance of a common national identity, Canadians should publicly commemorate Macdonald.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in favor of removing Macdonald’s name claim he worsened relations between Indigenous and white Canadian communities through methods such as withholding “food from (…) First Nations subjects in the Northwest” (“The ‘Trial’ of”). However, his neglect of the Indigenous peoples was the consequence of a larger vision;  the unity and friendship between English and French-speaking Canadians. Macdonald “resisted complaints about ‘French domination,’ calling for French-Canadians to be treated as a nation” (Mackay). His actions earned trust and respect from the French-Canadian community, which made up a third of Canada’s population at confederation. Instead of giving in to the xenophobic atmosphere of the two opposing groups, Macdonald, an English-speaking Canadian, searched and found a solution to unite the bickering communities. Today, modern Canadians can enjoy the benefits of Macdonald’s actions. The racist attitudes between French and English-speaking Canadians have largely disappeared, and Quebec still remains a part of Canada, all thanks to Macdonald’s efforts.

Despite defenders supporting Macdonald for his invaluable contributions in creating Canada as a nation, some Canadian communities took action to remove Macdonald’s name for his discriminatory policies towards Indigenous and Chinese peoples. Most notably, the residents of Victoria “remove[d] the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from the front doors of [their] city hall” (Helps). However, when one takes a look at a larger scale, one can see that Macdonald’s role as a nation builder through his advocacy of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and his ability to improve relations between French and English-speaking Canadians in an era of xenophobia, makes him a Canadian worthy of remaining in the public eye. Often, when we view historical figures through the modern lens, we become too fixated on their faults and unalignment with our modern values, which prevents us from seeing their overall achievements in a positive light. In the case of Sir John A Macdonald, he had his share of faults, but it is because of Macdonald that thirty six million Canadians still have a place to call home; one hundred fifty one years and counting.


Lam, Adrian. “Victoria Removing Sir John A. Macdonald Statue from City Hall.” Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Sun, 9 Aug. 2018,

“The University of British Columbia.” Canadian Pacific Railway | Chung Collection, 2011,

Topechka, Randy. “What Are the Ways in Which the Canadian Pacific Railway Changed Canada?” Quora, 2017,

“The ‘Trial’ of Sir John A. Macdonald: Would He Be Guilty of War Crimes Today? | CBC Radio.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 21 Dec. 2018,

Mackay, Peter. “Sir John A. Macdonald Left a Lasting Imprint on Canada’s Character.” The Globe and Mail, 1 July 2017,

“In Debate over First PM’s Legacy, Vast Majority Say John A. Macdonald’s Name, Image Should Stay in Public View.” Angus Reid Institute, 12 Oct. 2018,











In Depth 2K19: Blog Post #6, The End is Near…

This is the last blog post for In Depth.


This is the last blog post for In Depth Jerome will ever write.


That’s certainly marks off for concision, but I don’t think I’ll ever have an opportunity to do this again, so I might as well do it.

Jokes put aside, time really has gone by fast. There is only a few weeks left to In Depth, and very soon, I’ll start putting together my learning center. From the penultimate blog post, I have had two sessions with my mentor. What we discussed was rather normal and mundane compared to the elaborate preparations some of peers are making right now. However, while the end of In Depth is near, my journey of Japanese will probably never end, so for now, I’m taking my time and learning what I need to learn. Here is what my mentor and I discussed:

  • Vocabulary. My mentor and I went over new vocabulary, however, they were mostly random words without any particular kind of grouping. I did learn the second way of counting in Japanese. One convenient attribute of the second way of counting is its ability to ask for a number of things without the need for a counter. For example, 新聞を一枚ください and 新聞を一つください both mean the same thing, “please give me one newspaper” (rough translation). However, the first method requires the counter 枚 (counter for flat objects) after the number 一 (one). This requires the speaker to know the counter for the object, which differs depending on the object. Using the second method of counting eliminates this need for a counter, making it easy to say the number of objects up to ten.
  • Oral. The bulk of our sessions are oral. We repeat the same procedure of asking questions and answering, but we also make an effort to ask each other what the weather is like, how we are doing, and other similar formalities in Japanese.
  • Etymology. This is mostly the result of my questions. One word we covered the etymology of was the word 日本 or Japan. Many, including myself, know this word means origin of the sun, but I didn’t quite understand why. 日 means “sun” by its most common definition, but 本 means “book”. I later found out that 本 could also mean “origin”. Thus 日本 would mean “sun-origin”. The ancient Japanese saw the sun rising over the horizon, and as the sun plays an important role in traditional Japanese religion, they named their land 日本. According to my mentor, the fact that the Japanese themselves wouldn’t have known they were in the east until Westerners arrived denies the theory that Japan is called 日本 because of its position in the east. The internet claims otherwise, but I find my mentor’s theory more believable.

Progress Report:

I have learned a couple hundred new kanji by their loose translations and stroke order since my last post. While I have not yet achieved my goal of knowing 3000 kanji using the Heisig method, I still have a few weeks to learn the remaining the kanji before In Depth night.

I’m picking out new pronunciations for certain kanji, but I am also picking out pronunciations and meanings for certain kanji compounds. For example, 新聞, combines the kanji 新(new) and 聞(hear) to create 新聞 (newspaper). More or less, this makes sense and through regular usage, I can cement this compound into my memory.

As usual, the amount of immersion I’m understanding is increasing, but there isn’t anything new to write about.

Learning Center:

I plan to focus on how I learned the different writing systems, how each writing system has a role, and how the language just works in general. I thought about having phrases in Japanese and translating them in English, but while this might work for European languages that have similarities in grammar, it wouldn’t be very effective in Japanese.  I want my audience to walk away with an idea of how Japanese works, seeing how interesting and unique the language is from English, how one might tackle the complexity of writing kanji, and how I learned Japanese. If visitors have any oral questions or just want to know how to say something, I can reasonably answer most Japanese questions, but I don’t want this to be the main focus.

I currently have two ideas in mind for making my learning center interactive. One way is to have visitors write their name in Japanese using katakana, but personally, I think this is rather boring. The other idea is to have visitors create their own mnemonic sentence for memorizing a kanji. Through creating their own mnemonic sentence with the primitives of the kanji, my audience will be able to get into my kanji learning mindset, which involved creating thousands of mnemonics sentences for each individual kanji. Kanji is known to be very difficult for western learners because of how similar the characters look and the complexity of each character. By having my visitors create their own sentence and write the kanji, I hope visitors walk away with the knowledge that kanji isn’t that difficult, if you’re using the right method to learn it.

How to Have a Beautiful Mind:


Concepts act “like road junctions that open up several other roads (p.88). Similarly, in Japanese, concepts branch into various different components that make up parts of the language as a whole. For example, the concept of speaking Japanese, branches into pronunciation, whether the way I’m speaking is appropriate to the situation, and whether the listener is able to understand what I am saying. During our sessions, my mentor and I discussed the concept of speaking Japanese and took the time to critique the various components of the concept, such as pronunciation. Additionally, my mentor and I discussed the concept of clarity. When writing Japanese the difference between か and が seems very minuscule, but this slight difference can change whether my writing is clear and understandable or not. My mentor noticed my negligence and discussed the concept, which could be achieved through accuracy and practice.


So far, my mentor has provided me with a lot of alternatives. For example, she offered me the alternative of continuing to work on my kanji and incorporating my knowledge into the work she gave me. Without this alternative, I would “have rigidity and complexity,” and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn kanji, a vital component of reading “actual” Japanese, so early in my journey of learning Japanese (p. 97). De Bono states that “having an adequate way of doing something is as much of a problem as a traditional problem” (p.89). Early in my sessions with my mentor, this very “problem” occurred. My mentor didn’t know I already knew kana and wanted me to do worksheets to cement my knowledge of the kana. This was a way for me to make writing the kana automatic, but it was not the most effective way. By exploring the alternative of moving onto new material and having me cement my knowledge of the kana through practical application that came with learning the new material, my mentor and I accelerated our pace and moved on.

Another mentor, with a traditional style of teaching the language, might have not offered me these alternatives. Generally, kanji is seen as something a Japanese student might learn years into the study of the language. A different mentor might want to provide strong guidance to me while learning kanji and would’ve given me the alternative of learning kanji with their counsel, if learning kanji was something he/she would permit in the first place. As for the second alternative, another mentor might have provided me with the alternative of still doing the worksheets but with an accelerated pace.

Well. That’s it. Once I finish typing the final word of this blog post, the last In Depth blog post I will ever write will be finished. さよなら。


Socials 2k19 Blog Post#2: Sir Arthur Currie

It has been a few weeks of “on-and-off” reading and procrastination since I picked up Hugh M. Urquhart’s Arthur Currie: The Biography of a Great Canadian. While reading, I selected five significant passages that intrigued me, personally or through its relevance to Canadian identity.


“[Canadians] might have memories of the Salisbury Plain days when the Canadians were lectured day in and day out by British officers on leave from the battlefield on their lack of discipline, (…) [but] the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, decided that the Canadian Division, instead of being as a matter of routine sent back for further training in the rear area, would take over a sector of their own at a date four days after the Canadians arrived in France” (54).

When Canada entered World War 1, Canada didn’t have a standing army and all it could put together was a hastily put together mess of soldiers and partially trained volunteers from its militias. This is very interesting seeing how Canada today has one of the most professional and disciplined forces in the world. Furthermore, from personal experience in the Cadet organization, I know that Canada takes great pride in its military history and puts a soft military influence on civilian lives through organizations and public holidays. Seeing how all this influence on Canadian identity took place after World War 1, I find it astonishing to find how in the span of a little over a hundred years, being Canadian militarily changed beyond recognition.

At the time of this passage, Canadians, or the Canadian government, didn’t place much value on the military. Canada sending troops in World War 1 was a mere obligation as a dominion of the British Empire; Canada didn’t send its troops to earn recognition through its military. Through happenstance, however, Canada earned recognition among the great powers of Europe and through a series of additional wars, Canada became known externally as a small, but formidable force, a sharp contrast when juxtaposed to its poorly trained militias a mere hundred years ago. Through earning respect and recognition for Canada, the military ingrained itself as an important value in Canadian society and pieced together an arguably small, but significant part of Canadian identity.


“”I desire to state,” he replied, “that in my opinion no Imperial in this division could at present be replaced by a Canadian officer now serving and available without great loss of efficiency. … It is not a question of whether a man is a Canadian or otherwise, it is one of the best man for the job… Sentiment must no sway our better judgement… (118)”

I find it interesting how Currie, a Canadian himself, states that he believes that the British officers of the Canadian division at that time are better suited to the task than any Canadian officer. He goes to the extent that he states that he believes that “no Imperial in [his] divison could (…) be replaced by a Canadian officer” (118). The very reason why Currie and other Canadians are serving in World War 1 is through the result of nationalism; the young Canadian men believe that their shared national identity as a Canadian creates an obligation for them to fight for Britain. Arguably, having a connection to Britain is a core part of being Canadian, but realistically, one expects a person to favor a person of the same national heritage over someone without a shared identity. Currie’s statement defies this by putting a non-Canadian in a post that he could put a Canadian in. No human being is truly free of judgement or bias, but Currie’s level of impartiality in this passage is rather remarkable.

This action resonates strongly with the values of present-day Canada. While racism and discrimination arguably influences an individual’s ability to get a certain post, Canada, for the most part, is a country where people with ability are placed in their deserving posts, regardless of where they come from. In fact, the Canadian Labour Code “prohibits [employment] discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity and other grounds” (gc, 2018). During the time of Currie, there were Canadians like Currie who were perpetuating this idea of “ability over nationality,” and today, Canada as a whole adopts this idea through its constitution and social policies.


“You probably know as well as I do just what reinforcements we have available in England, and you must also know that they will be all used up in a very short time. If other men are not forthcoming it means that the Canadian Corps as a fighting unit will disappear. It will also mean that Canada will not only have deserted the men here, but will practically have deserted the Empire as well” (189).

Immediately, the passage gives off a “Hobbesian” feel; Currie makes connections between the Empire and Canada, showing how the two are entwined in a quasi-social contract. Currie himself considers himself to be a Canadian, but also considers himself to be a citizen of the British Empire. He takes pride in this and draws nationalistic statements from the fact that he is part of the British Empire, which brings to light the shared national identity of both British and Canadians. Unlike his republican neighbors to the south, Currie and his fellow Canadians seem to abide more by Hobbes’ ideas while the south tends to lean to Locke, favoring independence from the Brutish Empire in order to form a republic.

Canadians during the first World War believed that it was better to have a leader than no leader at all. Without being a dominion under the British Empire, Canada wouldn’t need to send troops and sacrifice lives for Britain, yet Canada’s firm Hobbesian belief led to Canada wanting to be part of the British Empire. Hence, Canada associated itself with the British Empire and its Crown. This perpetuates to this day; the Crown is technically the head of state of Canada and Canada maintains ties with Britain as part of the Commonwealth. While the connection to Britain has become less significant in modern-day Canada, this aspect of Canadian identity remains fundamentally the same as it was in 1915; to be Canadian means to favor protection and leadership from Britain while also maintaining a “Hobbesian” perspective.


“On the other hand, the Canadian Corps at the time Currie took it over was a compact organism, national in character, consisting of a large number of corps troops and four divisions which were not moved out of the Corps. In those circumstances its commander became a national and an international figure” (167).

This quote makes evident the transformation of the Canadian corps from a being a loosely organized coalition of volunteers and militiamen to a full fledged, internationally recognized force. While the entire biography strongly hints at the importance of the Canadian armed forces in representing Canada internationally, this quote summarizes the importance of Canada serving overseas. Canada’s troops not only helped the British turn the tide of war against the Germans in World War 1; they also played a crucial role in representing the country. Even if there was a distinct Canadian identity or characteristic that deserved to be noticed, Europeans wouldn’t notice this. However, they would notice the achievements of the Canadians corps, its commander and how well they fought. This interest earned national recognition for Canada and made the great powers aware that Canada was more than just beavers and maple syrup.

As far back as World War 1, Canada sent troops overseas to restore peace and represent Canada. While our involvement in solving conflicts has progressed from peacekeeping to peacemaking, Canada still plays a role in sending its troops overseas. As of 2001, “39 267 CF personnel have deployed to Afghanistan,” one location of the dozens of locations Canadians are deployed to (gc, 2018). This shows that just like in 1915, Canada is a peacekeeper and uses its military forces to achieve peace, which makes being a peacekeeper a key part of Canadian identity.


“On that date Currie’s headquarters was bombed. Two of the personnel were killed, fifteen wounded, and Currie’s life was saved through the accident that he himself took a message which he had just written to Signals Office. While he was on his way back and within ten yards of his hut it was struck. Currie was covered with the earth thrown up by the bomb, one piece of which grazed his head” (159).

This quote greatly interests me because it points how close Currie once was to dying before his legacy was secured. Currie was literally ten steps away from dying, which would’ve meant that this biography would never be published and that I never would be typing this sentence you are currently reading right now. This brings to light how lucky Currie is. Despite joining the military at a much later age than his peers, he quickly got promoted and ended up attaining the highest rank possible in the Canadian corps. He also survived World War 1 and led his men through some of the most torrential gunfire in all of the Western front. Similarly, I have been somewhat lucky so far. My recklessness led me into multiple dangerous scenarios, yet I managed to make it to this day without being mauled by a bear or hit by a car on a bicycle.

At a glance, this quote only seems to show the luckiness of Arthur Currie, but it also shows how much Canada was willing to put at stake for the British. Arguably, as a dominion of the British Empire, Canada had the responsibility to send troops to help out Britain in World War 1. However, Canada went beyond what was expected, risking its own national security for the sake of getting more soldiers. For example, during the Conscription Crisis of 1917, Canada caused massive fractures in French and English speaking Canadian communities for the sake of getting conscripts to aid the British. Similarly, Currie and his personnel’s life threatening incidents show how much Canada was willing to sacrifice for Britain. All this shows that Canada valued the connection between Britain and Canada, enough to sacrifice the lives of Canadians. To this day, having this connection to Britain is an important part of Canadian identity, whether this be through our anthems or through our political systems.

Theme: While your efforts might not make your dreams come true, hard work never disappoints you in the end.

Arthur Currie was undeniably a hard-working individual. He went beyond the call of duty to make sure that he could make every operation a success and minimize the loss of life. He inspected guns when it wasn’t his job to do so, carefully evaluated the morale of his divisions, spent hours studying battle maps, and promptly dealt with any inefficiencies with the higher command. When the Ross rifle, a mass manufactured rifle used by the Canadian corps at the time of World War 1, continued to jam up and cause malfunctions in the battlefield, Currie persistently demanded the higher command for better rifles, even stating that it was “not as satisfactory as it should be” to Sam Hughes, the Minister of Military and Defense, someone who could have easily removed Currie from his position (117). There were still people who didn’t agree with Currie’s ideals and enforced their opinions over this. Launching a frontal attack on the German lines wasn’t what Currie wanted, but even with his hard work, he couldn’t dissuade his higher ups from ordering the costly attack which ended with thousands of Canadians dying, all for a failure. However, Currie’s hard work paid off in the end. Thousands of potential lives were saved with Currie’s decision making and assertiveness. His leadership and command during pivotal battles, such as Vimy Ridge, earned respect and recognition for Canada. While his dreams did not come true, his persistence achieved astonishing results. Similar to Currie, I consider myself to be a persistent individual who does a significant amount of work in the background. At this point in life, I’ve realized the limitations of my talent and let go of many ambitious dreams I had as an idealistic youth. Rather than getting depressed over the futility and ambiguity of my future, however, I will abide by this theme and continue to work hard. Even if I never find true meaning, I will continue to go on, believing that one day, my persistence will reward me in a way I never expected it to.

In Depth 2K19: Blog Post #5, Jōyō Kanji, Fugu, and Omurice

Time has gone by really fast. It feels like it was just recently that I met my mentor for the first time and now, I’m thinking about how I’m going to present my learning on In-Depth night, Since my last blog post, I have had two sessions with my mentor. In a nutshell, this is what we discussed:

  • Vocabulary. As said in my previous blog post, my mentor and I introduce a lot of new vocabulary through running through different scenarios, but we also went over specific vocabulary, such as Japanese numbers to ten million.
  • Oral. The bulk of our sessions are oral. My mentor and I ask questions and give answers in different scenarios to practice pronunciation and correct grammar.
  • Prepositions. We covered the basic prepositions, such as 上 (up), 下 (below), 前 (in front), and 横 (next to).
  • Japanese culture. Occasionally, the questions lead to tangents where my mentor and I end up discussing Japanese culture, such as onsens (hot springs), fugu (a risky pufferfish dish), and omurice (omelet over rice). While not directly related to the language learning aspect, these discussions help me know my mentor more as a person.

Progress Report:

When I initially set my goals, I underestimated the amount of information needed to learn kanji. Even though I’m only learning the kanji and their definitions, I’m still planned on learning three thousand two hundred kanji, the approximate number of kanji a university graduate would know. For now, I’ve learned the two thousand two hundred general use, jōyō kanji, or the kanji a Japanese high school graduate would know. I think that my initial goals might have been possible in an environment without other commitments but might have been too ambitious to do during a school year.

I’m still indirectly finding out the pronunciations for certain kanji. For example, my mentor taught me the prepositions, and one of them was うえ, which means up. Knowing that the kanji for up was 上, I could then logically synthesize that 上 was pronounced うえ.

Immersion has been going well. I’m picking out a lot of words and phrases and the context is getting a lot easier to understand. While the amount of immersion has gone down due to there being certain times in my schedule where immersion is not possible, I plan to increase the quality of my immersion by doing more active immersion where I’m actively listening and trying to understand what I’m hearing rather than passive immersion where I simply play Japanese media while I work on other things.

How to have a Beautiful Mind:

Personally, I think this blog needs more color, so I will color code my transcript.

Black Hat

White Hat

Red Hat

Yellow Hat

Green Hat

Blue Hat

Mentor: This should be written が not か.

“The black hat stops us from doing things that are wrong,” and that’s what my mentor, who uses the black hat the most, uses it for (p. 94). By critiquing my writing, my mentor prevents me from developing bad habits that might hinder my application of the language.

Me: Yeah, I keep forgetting to put the dakuten marks.

Mentor: Also, is this あいません? You want ありません.

Me: Oh, that actually is ありません. I was writing a bit fast so I guess it came out a bit funny-looking.

“The white hat means ‘information’,” so in this case, my mentor and I exchange “information” on what I wrote, using only solid facts and avoiding the usage of emotions (p.92).

Mentor: Yes. I feel like you could lengthen this stroke more so that it looks for like り instead of い.

Mentor: I notice you used kanji. Very good, but why did you write いぬ in katakana?

My mentor uses the red hat to “legitimize [her] emotions” and give me statements that allow me to understand that what she’s saying is not entirely fact-based logic but rather her “emotions, feelings, and intuition” (p.93/94). Using this hat, she expresses her thoughts on the neatness and legibility of my writing and expresses her thoughts on the usage of kanji. Additionally, she uses the blue hat. By “defining the focus and purpose” of our conversation by asking a question, my mentor also sets “the sequence of hats for the session” (p.101). The question makes me explain why I wrote いぬ in katakana and limits the number of hats that could be used next by making me choose a hat most suitable for answering the question.

Me: Oh, I thought that since ネコ was written in katakana, いぬ would also be written in katakana. Also, i did some research, and I found いぬ written in katakana.

“The green hat asks for (…) alternatives,” such as the asking of the alternative writing of いぬ. In this case, the alternative I proposed turned out to be wrong, but if it did turn out that いぬ could have been written イヌ, taking the risk to explore an alternative would have given me valuable information I wouldn’t have gotten without using the green hat. I also use the yellow hat by trying to explain “why something should work” (p.97). I explain to mentor why I think いぬ is written in katakana by telling her how I did research and showing my logical train of thought. This allows me to find value in the possibility I proposed by clarifying why my alternative does not work.

Mentor: I see. Well in this scenario, it’s usually not written in katakana, but you can write it in kanji.

Me: Is 犬 the kanji by any chance?

Mentor: Yes! Very good.

Mentor: Overall, your writing is very easy to read, but you just need to fix the way you write a few of the hiragana.

Once again, my mentor uses the blue hat, but this time, its solely for the purpose of “defining the focus and purpose” of the conversation a final time (p.97). By summing up her comments regarding my writing and the suggestions she had for me, she repeats the context of our conversation and reaffirms its purpose. Furthermore, the yellow hat and the green hat are used again. The yellow hat finds value in my writing by describing it as “very easy to read,” while the green hat explores the alternative of writing certain hiragana a bit neater.

With one more blog post left the moment I press “Publish”, In-Depth is just around the corner. Let’s make the days count, all the way until the end. さよなら!

Socials 2k19 Blog Post #1: Canada, a “Post National” State?

Q: Is Canada a nation, simply a country, or a ‘post national’ state?

Canada is simply a country made up of multiple nations. By definition, a country encompasses the physical boundaries of a legally recognized state and everything inside it, including its laws and population. “Canada has borders, where guards check passports, and an army,” and with the recognition of its borders and sovereignty, Canada fits the criteria for a country (Foran, 2017). Canada as a whole is not a nation, however; the myriad of Indigenous and immigrant nations don’t define all Canadians but rather the specific Canadians that belong to that nation. Canadians abide by the laws of Canada and speak one of the official languages of the country, but rather than this being a shared characteristic of someone belonging to a nation, this is simply what is necessary to live in the country, Canada. Additionally, while Canada comparatively holds more value in diversity and multiculturalism, Canada is still not “a place where respect for minorities trumps any one group’s way of doing things,” or a “post national” state (Todd, 2016). For example, the niqab ban in Quebec proves that when a minority’s culture, or way of doing things, conflicts with the laws of the country, the country’s laws take priority. It is only when a culture does not conflict with the country’s laws that the culture is given complete respect. Without always taking respect for minorities as a first priority, Canada can at best call itself a “quasi-post national” state. Furthermore, “the [already] established mechanisms of state governance and control” prevent a country from completely becoming a “post national state”; Canada is not an exception (Foran, 2017). One of the reasons for Canada becoming a country is because “there is a ‘unique Canadian culture’” that makes us distinct as a country (Todd, 2017). To protect Canada’s identity as a country, laws and government control, such as tariffs and the military, were created. Without these, any country would lose its identity to a more dominant culture. As Canada still has laws and state control over the influence of foreign cultures and corporations, Canada is simply a country, not a “post national” state. With Canada at the forefront of social change and acceptance, labelling Canada as a “post national” state or something else is very easy, but in reality, Canada is a country; one that just happens to be made of multiple nations.


In Depth 2k19: Blog Post #4

Astonishingly, it is already halfway through In-Depth. Since my last blog post, I met with my mentor two times. The content of both sessions was different, but in a nutshell, this is what we discussed:

  • Asking and answering questions: During our sessions, my mentor and I took turns asking and answering questions off the top of our heads. This gave some room for creativity, increased my confidence in speaking the language impromptu, and allowed my mentor and I to learn about each other while still practicing Japanese.
  • Vocabulary: Vocabulary learning has taken a shift from flashcards to going through different scenarios, such as asking someone directions. At the end of every scenario, I have the chance to ask my mentor about any words or phrases I didn’t understand, which indirectly increases my knowledge of Japanese vocabulary.
  • Basic Grammar: This time’s major takeaway was the usage of the particles が‘(ga) and は(wa). While very similar and almost interchangeable, there are certain cases where ガ(ga) is not appropriate. For example, when asking a question は(wa) is almost always used. The usage of the particles differs depending on the situation, and my mentor was reluctant to overwhelm me with too much information, but for now, this is my understanding.

Progress Report:

Kana is out of the way now, and kanji is all that remains. Unfortunately, my momentum has slowed down, and since last time, I have only added a little more than two hundred new kanji and their readings to my knowledge. Finding time to sit down and create stories for the individual kanji and reviewing them has been difficult. My plan is to find a way to make more time, whether that means staying up a little bit later or waking up a little bit earlier.

On the up side, I’m unwittingly finding out the pronunciations of certain kanji from my mentoring sessions and my immersion. When my mentor taught me the word for water, which in hirigana is みず(mizu), I realized I already knew the kanji for water, which is 水. Using logic, I then concluded that one of the pronunciations for 水 is みず(mizu).

Immersion is going well. I’m enjoying a lot of the media I immerse in. In terms of word variation, sentences, and grammar, podcasts are my go-to, but for keeping motivation high and reminding myself why I chose to learn the language in the first place, music and Japanese shows usually do the trick. While I am not able to fluently understand my immersion, I understand a lot more than before, and the context of different conversations aren’t as obscure as before, especially with shows that provide visual cues.

How to have a Beautiful Mind:

How to Listen:

Mentor: Oh, you already know some kanji?

Me: Yes, I’ve been learning it on the side. Do you think it’s okay to do so?

Mentor: Yes, that’s a good thing. If you enjoy doing kanji, keep doing kanji.

Me: I see. I guess it is important to make sure I enjoy learning the language as well.

Mentor: Yes! Of course.

One of the concepts in “How to Listen” is taking notice, “especially of the adjectives” (p.70). Underlined above, you can see my mentor using the word “good” to describe my learning of the kanji. Since “adjectives are almost always subjective,” I can know more about how my mentor “feels” about a particular idea “rather than objective reality” (p.70). This allowed me to draw inferences, such as how my mentor believes that learning kanji even at an early stage is beneficial (some teachers strongly disapprove against this).


Me: So, I’m a bit a unclear on when が(ga) and は(wa) are used. Could you clarify for me?

Mentor: Well, it really depends on the situation, but for example, when asking a question, you almost always use は(wa). Also, when answering in the negative, you use は(wa) not が(ga).

Me: I noticed that you didn’t mention any instances where は(wa) cannot be used. Does that mean は(wa) can be used in any situation?

Mentor: It could sound awkward, but it wouldn’t be grammatically wrong.

Me: I see. So は(wa) is the only particle that can only be used for negatives and questions, but if I don’t know whether to use は(wa) or が(ga), a safer bet for me would be to use は(wa)?

Mentor: Yes, but usually that doesn’t happen.

De Bono describes the idea of “shooting questions” in How to Have a Beautiful Mind (p.79). “The main purpose of a shooting question is to check on something,” and in my mentoring session, this “something” was my understanding of the Japanese particles, は(wa) and が(ga) . By asking “shooting questions,” I verified my knowledge of what my mentor taught me, which made sure I didn’t walk away with incomplete or false information.

We are halfway there. *DEEP BREATH* Let’s keep going. さよなら。

R&J #1: Puppy Love?

  1. Based on our readings so far, do you agree or disagree that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is one of “infatuated children” engaging in “puppy love”? Why or why not? Provide at least two pieces of textual evidence.

Romeo and Juliet’s love is not “puppy love”, but rather true love. According to Merriam Webster, puppy love is “transitory love or affection felt by a child or adolescent” (Merriam Webster, 2019). With Juliet being thirteen years old and Romeo being only a few years older, we can easily label the two as “children”. However, during the 16th century, “there was no concept of being a teenager or even of childhood as now understood” (Gordon, 2018). Thirteen-year-olds weren’t considered children at that time, as such a concept did not exist. Girls “younger than [Juliet] [were] happy mothers made,” meaning they had to find love and marry at an early age (1.2.12). With the need to marry so early, there was no time for “puppy love”, or mere infatuation, since the person you loved had to be someone you wanted to marry. Furthermore, when Lady Capulet spontaneously asks Juliet if she can “like of Paris’ love,” she shows that love at that time had to be decided quickly (1.3.97). Unlike our world of globalization today, the lovers’ world left limited opportunities to love. City populations were lower, societal constraints restricted love within the same social class, and love was mostly restricted within the same region. Therefore, Romeo and Juliet’s love can seem like mere infatuation due to how quickly they elope, but with such limited opportunities to love, love had to instantaneous; there was no telling when you would find someone else you could love. Finally, when Juliet asks Romeo to “send [her] word to-morrow” if his “purpose [is] marriage”, she shows that their love is not mere infatuation, but is strong enough to trigger a marriage proposal. “Puppy love” is not strong enough to create marriage proposals. In 16th century Italy, entering marriage for a woman didn’t mean that her partner had to love her back. Men were “more or less free to visit prostitutes” and “relations between male youths and older [married] men were regarded as fairly routine” (“Husbands and Wives”, 2019). Only women had obligations to remain faithful to their husbands. Thus, Juliet’s decision to propose marriage shows that she considers her relationship with Romeo more than mere infatuation and trusts him enough to give up certain rights to enter marriage with him. Based on our readings and the norms of the 16th  century, Romeo and Juliet’s love is not mere “puppy love”, but is instead true love, appropriate to the norms and values of that time.

  1. To what extent is Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children effective, or even historically accurate? Do some brief online research to back up your claim, providing links/ citation to your research at the end of your response.

Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children is effective from a historical perspective. In the 16th century, “there was no concept of being a teenager of even of childhood as now understood” (Gordon, 2018). Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t have considered themselves children, nor would their family and friends. Thus, not viewing Romeo and Juliet as children is a more historically accurate way of viewing the two lovers, as the very concept of a “child” did not exist in the 16th century. Additionally, “women as young as fourteen were often married” in 16th century Italy (“Husbands and Wives”, 2019). Allowing one year for discrepancy, this shows that it wouldn’t be unusual for a thirteen year old girl of high social standing like Juliet to be married. Therefore, Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children is effective and historically accurate.

Art, N. G. (n.d.). Husbands and Wives. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from
Gordon, J. (2018, September 16). Back in the 1500s, were teenagers considered adults or children? Retrieved February 19, 2019, from

In Depth 2k19: Blog Post #3

Once again, about two weeks have gone since my last post. I had another mentoring session. This time, we went over the following:

  • Hiragana practice. My mentor tested my knowledge of the hiragana by having me write down the romanized version of the Japanese word in hiragana. It was an opportunity for my mentor to see my grasp of hiragana and also an opportunity for me to see how much I really knew.
  • Common phrases and pronunciation: In the time we had, we ran through two different scenarios, and practiced Japanese that was relevant to that particular scenario. This gave me practical knowledge, rather than pedantic knowledge, on saying useful phrases like asking where a bus was heading.
  • Vocabulary. Once more, we went over some new vocabulary. Most of the vocabulary this time was entirely new, and I walked away from the mentoring session with the knowledge of several new words.
  • Basic grammar. One major takeaway was that in sentences using わ (wa) as a topic marker, or grammatical particle, わ is written as は (ha). Therefore, the sentence for kore wa nan desu ka? (what is this?) is written これはなんですか。

Progress Report:

Through reviewing and practice, I have fortified my knowledge of the kana, and I can pretty much write any word in hiragana or katakana.

My learning of the kanji stroke order and their rough English definitions is going pretty well. I’m approximately halfway towards my goal. On the side, I’ve been doing immersion with different forms of media. While I still don’t understand the majority of what I’m hearing, I can usually grasp the gist of the conversation through the few phrases I know and by following along with the context.

How to have a Beautiful Mind:

How to be Interesting:

Me: From looking at the words from before, I can see that jin means person. In this scenario, however, why is the word hito used to mean person?

Mentor: It’s complicated.


Me: This is mostly a guess, but is it because of the kunyomi and onyomi pronunciations? The Chinese and the native pronunciations.


Mentor: Yes. Usually, I try not to teach that too early since that confuses a lot of my students.

De Bono states that “finding and making connections links matters together and generates interest” (p. 52). By creating connections between different representations of the word for person, I linked these two matters together. This got rid of the confusion I had by creating a logical answer to the questions I had regarding the different words. Furthermore, this generated interest by telescoping into the concept of kunyomi and onyomi, something that usually wouldn’t be covered in our conversation.

How to Respond:

Me: I’m a bit confused on when you use おお or おう to create the long vowel sound for “oo”. I might have missed something you said, but is there some kind of grammar rule or any kind of rule that makes it so that you use おう or おお?

Mentor: I don’t know! (laughingly) You’ll have to ask the person who invented Japanese. It’s random, and unfortunately, it’s more memorization. You’ll get it eventually.

One of the tactics described in the “how to respond” chapter is clarification. “Any speaker wants to communicate and to be understood” (p. 55). Likewise, my mentor and I both want to communicate and understand each other. In this case, it turned out that I had not missed something my mentor said. However, if it did turn out that my mentor said something regarding rules with the long vowel sounds, I would have left the mentoring session with an incomplete understanding, something that could be detrimental to my learning.

Alas, reader, you have reached the end of this blog post. さよなら。