By Shelby Horton
Any student who hopes to go to college understands that a few risks must be taken, such as taking out student loans or moving in with a roommate you hardly know.
But Junya Ishii, a sophomore at Hutchinson Community College, took a bigger risk than most students.
A year and a half ago, Ishii made the move from Kanagawa, Japan, to Kansas.
Ishii describes taking exams to be allowed to come to school in the United States, but still feeling very unsure about making the commitment to moving so far away for school.
“I wanted to come to the United States, but I knew it was going to be a lot of work and very difficult,” Ishii said.
“Fortunately, I passed, considering I only studied the night before. It was out of pure luck.”
At the time, Ishii recalls, his mother and he were not getting along, so when he passed the test, there was little resistance to him leaving home.
However, since his move, his relationship with his mother has improved greatly.
Moving from Japan to America was a cultural shock at first for Ishii, who could notice the differences in the countries right away.
“I was actually shocked at how loud American people are when they’re eating in public places,” Ishii said.
“Many people are shouting and are very loud.”
Ishii comes from a family where meals were solemnly structured; all table manners were used and the conversation was kept at a low volume.
Ishii also describes noticing how much Americans use their cars in comparison to Japanese people.
He said it’s not common for people to use their cars in Japan, since they prefer using public transportation, such as the bus or train.
Originally, Ishii was attending Hesston College, but was faced with challenges that proved to be more difficult than he thought.
“When I first came here, my English skills were so bad, I couldn’t understand anything that people were saying,” Ishii said. “It made homework difficult to understand or even complete.”
Out of the 40 Japanese students that were accepted at Hesston College, Ishii says he was the worst.
He began to lose sleep, due to his low GPA and test scores, which eventually lead to him leave Hesston College and transfer over to HCC.
“The tuition, overall, was cheaper and most of the classes are much easier for me to understand. Truthfully, I’m not the best student. Occasionally I’ll skip classes and I can be a pretty lazy student,” Ishii said. “But HCC was a good change for me.”
Ishii is majoring in business and education. He hopes to use the education that he is gaining here to later give free education to the needy in poorer countries.
In high school, Ishii learned about less fortunate countries while getting involved in a fundraising program to help build schools in needy countries.
“In the future I want to help these countries make money and sustainable business, but I want to build more schools first.”
“I think the main issue is the education systems. Without education, how can the people help themselves and build their own business.”
Since transferring to HCC, Ishii has made it a mission to be as involved as possible in all school functions, ranging from the Homecoming events to most of the sporting events here on campus.
“Of course, studying is important, but making lasting memories are just as important. In junior high and high school, all I did was study,” Ishii said. “That isn’t what I just want to do, I want to experience everything I can.”
Not only does Ishii keep involved in numerous campus events, he also participates in many different types of sports ranging from soccer, tennis, basketball and softball.
Ishii also plays the bass guitar and has his own band in Japan; they even write their own music, which he practices every night he can.
“I came to the United States and I took a risk by doing that, but don’t be afraid of change or taking a risk,” Ishii said.
“Sometimes people will make a mess, but you can learn something from it. As long as no one dies, you’re OK.”