The house system brings together small groups of 5-10 high school students with several university students from both Japan and abroad. Over the course of the summer school program, you will partake in various activities with your house, including nightly reflections in which you will have the opportunity to support and mentor the high school students as they discuss their daily experiences in the program.
Tips for a Successful Reflection
- Be patient - Most high school students feel most comfortable speaking in Japanese. Oftentimes, a Japanese university student (EC) will be there to help translate to you if you do not understand, but this process can be slow. Discuss with your House how you will go about translations - some ideas are whispered translations (i.e. one of the ECs whisper-translates quietly while the others speak) or written translations (i.e. one of the ECs writes main points in English while others speak). You can also start in English (ex. ‘How did you feel about this event?' 'How do you feel today?') and then switch to Japanese afterwards.
- Prioritise the high school students - While reflections exist for the benefit of everyone in the house, as a mentor it is most important that you are attentive and supportive to the needs of your mentees. Give support and put their development and well-being first.
- Have an open mind - some students at HLAB may struggle with the academics or with their English abilities, and others may be more confident; recognise the varied experiences people may be having and be avoid drawing comparisons amongst those in your house.
- You can use the daily events to help form questions to get reflections started - the content of the Summer School will already be pushing the high school students out of their comfort zone and making them think about deeper questions, so there is plenty of material to tap into.
- Do not force anybody to talk, but give everyone the time/opportunity to. Although some high school students may be very quiet at the start, over time they will likely open up - this should be an organic process, not something which is pushed or pressured.
- A plushie/soft toy is a helpful tool for Reflections - for example, to indicate who is currently talking, allowing them to have something comforting in their hands while they are likely sharing something personal.
- Sometimes Reflections risk running too long, because often nobody wants them to end, however, be conscious of the time, as rest is important in a Summer School as packed as HLAB.
- Bringing snacks to have during Reflections can be a welcoming treat.
- Most importantly, every House is different, because of its diverse members - figure out what works for you and your House!