Blake Walsh ’10
Harvard University Class of 2014
"When I first came to Charles Wright Academy, I decided to take Japanese for my foreign language requirement solely because I thought the writing systems looked interesting. I knew absolutely nothing about Japanese, other than that it was spoken in Japan and that I wanted to learn it. It would not be an overstatement to say that I was slightly intimidated by the prospect of having to learn three distinct writing systems and know when to apply them. However, the foreign language department at Charles Wright made learning this non-cognate language possible with its excellent teachers and a curriculum to match.
The Japanese curriculum focuses on all four aspects of language: reading, writing, listening and speaking, placing special emphasis on emulating the sounds of native speakers. Initially, Japanese was just another class I attended that assigned homework and gave tests. In my freshman year, a Charles Wright Winterim trip to Japan gave me an opportunity to apply all that I had learned in a real-world situation. This was the first of many opportunities at Charles Wright that allowed this course to become more than just 'school.'
Looking back, the Winterim trip was a quick glimpse into all that Japan has to offer. It was more of a tourist experience than one of cultural immersion because the latter is not easily achieved in a relatively short period of time. There is no doubt that I enjoyed the trip, but two weeks was only enough time to further pique my interest in the language and to make me want to go back."