Happy moments with a dash of haggardness and a sprinkle of workout. This best described how the first four months of my year was. Mostly because of the BLJ Ikebana Class. From January until April, I have collaborated with Best Living Japan. It was a series of Ikebana class mainly for foreigners living in Tokyo. The lessons were held every Tuesday afternoon at BLJ studio. For 10 Tuesdays, I was able to share the Japanese flower art to a group of ladies coming from different countries. It was also a learning experience for me as I further improve my skills as an Ikebana teacher.
Happy Moments with Wonderful Ladies
When Lauren asked me to do Ikebana lessons for Best Living Japan, it was an honor and at the same time a huge challenge. I am used to meeting people from all walks of life even leaders from different countries. But for some reason, teaching Ikebana to the expat community seemed to be a different level of challenge for me. I must admit that I sometimes feel awkward when I share about Ikebana to others here in Japan. As I am a non-Japanese teaching a Japanese culture in Japan.
Contrary to my awkward thoughts, the first day until the last session of our BLJ Ikebana class was a success and full of happy moments. We had a group of wonderful ladies coming from different backgrounds and countries. Each has a story to share and great enthusiasm to create their very first Ikebana arrangement. From them, I also learned a lot of things.
1. Sharing your passion to others should not be hindered by boundaries
My first day teaching for our BLJ Ikebana class also taught me to see and use my "non-Japanese teaching Japanese culture" as a strength rather than a weakness. I realized that aside from teaching the principles and basics of Ikebana, I am also sharing with them my passion for the flower art. Likewise sharing the same idea that we all might not stay forever in Japan, helped me design my lessons. From choosing the topics which they can do back home up to the materials or types of flowers that are also available elsewhere.
2. Diversity paves way to new perspectives
The diversity of students we had at BLJ Ikebana class was also a great venue for us to share different techniques, fresh interpretations, and new perspectives. Each lesson had two activities. During the first activity, I shared with them some techniques and styles based on the assigned topic. For the second activity, the students had to do freestyle and/or similar arrangements incorporating the Ikebana techniques they have learned. As their teacher, I was very impressed of their works and how they see their fellows' creations.
3. It is okay to challenge a beginner
While I was designing each course topic, I always kept in mind that they are beginners and may or may not have any idea what Ikebana is. This somehow constrained me to create by-the-books lessons instead of helping them discover or nurture their creativity. After our first lesson, I posed some challenges to my students. This also served as a test for me as their teacher. After teaching them the fundamentals and techniques, I asked to make arrangements based on their own interpretations and creativity. The results were magnificent!
Overall, it was a great experience teaching Ikebana as part of Best Living Japan's January - April 2018 (Spring Semester) Courses. Hope you can join us next time.