I think the word that best describes my internship experience at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is creativity. A significant part of my experience involved creatively promoting English language learning and boosting interest in American culture among Japanese. Social media is one of the most effective methods of promoting a topic and getting people interested in it. When I first started my internship, I was unaware of how much creativity goes into cultural exchange, but I was able to learn a lot about this during my six months at the Embassy.
From early on in my internship, I was involved in brainstorming on idiom posts for the Embassy’s Instagram account: @usembassytokyo. The account aims to promote American culture by posting photos of American food and scenery and sharing informative articles. During my time as an intern, I was able to create over 30 posts introducing idioms on the account. It was a fresh experience for me as a bilingual Japanese returnee to dive into the world of English idioms and share them in Japanese with a Japanese audience. What was especially fun about it was seeing the engagement that the posts received from those who were interested, whether it came in the form of likes, shares, or insightful and appreciative comments about the idioms. I had friends from school tell me they had fun learning new English phrases from our posts, and I was glad I was able to take part in promoting witty idioms that readers can use in their daily lives. I came to realize that there are so many English idioms that are unique to the English language, and I truly enjoyed sharing them through entertaining photos and graphic design.
I was also actively involved in introducing international and national days through the Embassy Twitter account: @usembassytokyo. I came to understand the difficulty of writing bilingual posts and making sure they mean the same thing. I also learned how important it is to keep the readers in mind when drafting a post or an article. For example, for American commemorative days, like National Maritime Day, the concept might be new to Japanese readers, so I added a sentence or two explaining the day. I did the same for English posts on Japanese traditional holidays such as Mountain Day. Doing research on commemorative days and American holidays was very interesting for me. Even if you are not in the country to celebrate the days directly, getting to know the national calendar of a foreign country is a very engaging experience. I’m hoping that our social media posts had the same effect on the readers as well.
I’d like to thank everyone at the Embassy for making my time there so wonderful. It was a valuable experience and I was able to learn a lot from the expertise of the staff there. While cherishing this experience, I hope to continue to play a role in encouraging cultural exchange and friendship between the United States and Japan.