For the Japanese department, the close of each semester means the bi-annual Red Pit party — an evening of communal celebration among students and faculty. Upperclassmen present videos, projects, and skits they have worked on throughout the semester, granting students beginning their studies of the language a glimpse into their future tasks. And, of course, the night is paired with delicious food— which even attracts attendees from outside the department.
While the Japanese department is relatively small, the Red Pit was packed this semester. As a third-term student myself, it was exciting to connect with some of my senpai, or upperclassmen, as well as first-term students. The department holds a weekly language table, in which students engage in conversation exclusively in Japanese, but the party certainly feels more celebratory than these conversations. Third-term student Denise Kuo ’21 shared a similar sentiment, noting that the party highlights everyone’s “improvement and achievement” each semester.
This year’s presentations were all entertaining and, many times, hilarious. Stephanie Zhang ’19 gave a thrilling presentation on ‘enka’, a popular Japanese music genre. Students in the 200-level class performed a complex skit about a trip to a fall festival. One third-term group shocked the audience with the story of a murder. Finally, another third-term group shared a play about a trip to Kyoto gone wrong. Overall, the performances were impressively creative and indicative of a productive semester.
Japanese is certainly a difficult language to learn. However, my senseis, or professors, make the process a lot easier through the community they foster. The bi-annual Red Pit party is just one example of the many out-of-class events the department sponsors to bring students together. Clearly, the department sees value in communal learning, which has no doubt made the language-learning process much more enjoyable.