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“Ganbare! Ganbare! Ganbare!”

You hear it shouted over and over again in the video. In Japan will hear it from friends, neighbors, classmates, and parents. You will see it on signs, buttons, and bumper stickers. It is an important expression, and exemplifies a crucial aspect of Japanese culture–the insistence that you never give up.

“Ganbare” is often translated as “good luck”, but this is completely wrong. It is indeed a word of encouragement. But it has much more to do with persistence and nothing to do with luck. “Ganbare” means “keep at it!” and is an expression to encourage perseverance.

In the video the child fails to make the jump over the vaulting box four times. He is crying, tired, and probably embarrassed. Emboldened by the encouragement of his classmates and teachers, he doesn’t give up, and on his fifth try makes a great leap, clearing the hurdle.

At JAMS, we teach our students to “ganbare”. In class mistakes are welcome. Students correct every wrong answer, sometimes taking multiple tries. (Sometimes 5+ times!) They take tests over and over gain, sometimes passing, sometimes failing, but always trying again. The important thing is that students keep going until they meet their goals.

Next week is exam week, and Sensei Miwako offers students encouragement through lessons others have learned. One student took the Abacus Level 6 exam three times before passing on the forth attempt. Another student took the Anzan Level 2 test twice before passing the third test. When students don’t pass an exam level they have to wait an entire term to try again. These students didn’t give up though–they worked hard, tried again and again, and in the end they finally passed.

What could be a better lesson for the future?

In life we will all have times when we feel that we cannot do something. Hopefully we had someone when we were younger show us that we can do it, that we can keep going. The students at JAMS are learning to “Ganbare” every day, and they are doing and will be able to do great things.

Ganbare Everyone!