One of the first stops in the U.S. for international student Yosuke Shingu was at a McDonalds restaurant, where he attempted to order a hamburger. Shingu admits that he couldn’t pronounce the word very well and ended up receiving coffee instead.
Born in Mexico, but raised in Japan, the OCCC student calls many places home.
Though Shingu is fluent in Japanese, his first language is Spanish. His first experience in the U.S. occurred when he moved to Felt, Okla., to live with a host family as a foreign exchange student. This is where Shingu first began to learn English.
He credits the majority of his language learning to watching the Disney Channel with his host family. Although he didn’t always know what the actors were saying, Shingu said, he could mostly understand what was happening by their actions.
“Phineas and Ferb” is one of the many shows he liked to watch, where he picked up the phrase “Whatcha doin’?”
He’s currently in a beginner level Spanish class at OCCC, where, he said, he is refreshing his memory.
“When I was 3, I was speaking Spanish to my parents.”
Shingu’s family moved to Mexico from Japan when his father was hired for a teaching program there. Shingu was born shortly after. The entire family then moved back to Japan after the three-year program finished.
Shingu also is still learning English, which he says is a work in progress.
As a film student, Shingu derives some of his inspiration from his experiences with the similarities and differences between the U.S. and Japan.
One of the differences he sees is that the Japanese have more respect for their mothers than Americans do. He said stand-up comedy also is not seen as funny in Japan.
Another big difference he noticed is seeing older people returning to school in the U.S., but he said he respects them for doing so.
Shingu, however, believes that despite the differences, Japan and the U.S. have much in common. He aims to demonstrate this in a documentary he directed called “A Person.”
In the documentary he interviews many people — both Japanese and American — and asks both nationalities what their thoughts are on the countries.
The Americans say they think Japanese eat sushi all the time and drive recklessly. They also associate the word “Godzilla” with Japan, in reference to the popular monster from the movie “Godzilla,” which took place in Japan.
The Japanese believe Americans are very friendly and have the freedom to do whatever they want. Both nationalities describe a slightly stereotypical view of the other country, which in actuality isn’t so different from their own.
Pete Hounslow, a friend and the film producer for many of Shingu’s projects, described the first time he met Shingu.
Hounslow was on the set of an independent film as an actor and watched as Shingu ran everywhere the cameras went.
“There wasn’t anything he didn’t do,” Hounslow said.
Shingu later approached Hounslow for some guidance on directing a class film project, which Hounslow said “wasn’t just a class project for [Shingu].”
Hounslow continued to help Shingu with his films and aided him in translating not just words from Japanese to English, but also ideas and concepts.
After graduating from Felt High School, Shingu left Oklahoma and returned to Japan. However, he came back to Oklahoma soon after in search of the nice people he had met in the small town, as well as a good film school, which he found at OCCC.
He has attended the college for two years and will graduate next fall. Shingu hopes to attend the University of Texas at Austin one day.
He also hopes his expertise in filmmaking will one day land him a studio internship at Disney.
He’s made several student films and has received a few awards for them, one of which was the Audience Choice Award at Bare Bones International Independent Film Festival in Muskogee for a documentary he directed called “In the Shadows.”
He said he normally shoots horror or thriller movies.
“The funny thing is I don’t like [to watch] that kind of film,” Shingu said.
Shingu visits his family in Japan about once a year.
As for Oklahoma, Shingu said he’s had a very good experience here. He said he dreams to one day walk the Red Carpet for his success in film.
Hounslow said he believes he will see Shingu fulfill that dream.