As I think about my experiences through the Kakehashi: TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars Program, I realise that with each passing day, Japan is a place that will constantly linger on my mind and in my heart. I fell in love with the atmosphere, the culture, the people; EVERYTHING. I was never disappointed and constantly hungered to learn more; constantly wanting to jump off the bus so I could explore every inch we crossed in Japan. Although I have been to Japan before (Hokkaido), this past experience was enchanting; I was always excited and engaged, hanging on each word spoken by tour guides, chaperones, lecturers, and friends.
Each morning that I work up, my mind was awake and ready for the adventures that awaited me; but at the same time, my body was asleep from eating so much the day before. As we constantly moved through each day, I became a sponge and soaked up each experience happily as we roamed the streets of Tokyo and Fukuoka. I would watch the local people pass by, on the right hand side of the sidewalk, either walking fairly quickly or riding a bicycle with ease. The more that I observed the people of Japan, I could only think of one word to describe them, やさしい (friendly, kind, happy).
The famous movie director, Yamada, Yoji (creator of Tora-san), once said:
“To be Japanese is to be やさしい;” To be happy in all anything you do.
As I observed our chaperones, tour guides, and friends, they all were happy and passionate about the jobs they did or the topics they studied; happily to spread their knowledge to others without hesitation. Each carried themselves with authority and moved with intention; forward to his or her goals of further education for themselves and others.At the same time, I saw the connection between the Japanese people and the late Daniel Inouye through intention to better their own communities and the world they live in.
Admittedly, this past year has not been the brightest one for me; losing someone I lost very dear to me. But at the same time, I learned a word that stuck through me throughout this entire trip, LEGACY. A legacy is something that someone leaves behind, whether it be tangible or not. In this case, Daniel Inouye left his legacy of connecting two places in the world together through a bridge of communication, KAKEHASHI. As scholars, we created so many connections to those in Japan, to better our communication between our two countries and carry on the legacy that Daniel Inouye left behind.
“Okage Sama De: I am what I am, because of you.”
As the next generation we need to continue to strengthen our connections more than ever due to our current circumstances in the world right now. We spread the culture of the country that we visited because of the lasting impact that it had on each of us. For me, I plan to come back to Japan to further my studies in Social Work, Education, and Culture so that I can expand my own knowledge even more and be able to call both places, equally, home. Yet I feel like part of me was left in Japan, waiting for my next opportunity, my next adventure, to continue being a strong TOMODACHI for the next generation.
Thank you to all those who took time out of their busy schedules to be with us throughout our journey. Thank you to the tour guides who bestowed historical knowledge onto us, to our lecturers who challenged our thoughts. Thank you to Ichikawa-san, Takano-san, Miho-san, Toma-san, Oya-san and the rest of the JICE staff for taking care of us and guiding us around Japan as you shared laughs and memories with us and watched us change and grow on this trip. Thank you to Patsy and Christine for helping us on each step of the journey with constant emails, making sure everything was in check, and watching us grow as well. Thank you to Kyushu University for having us and being great hosts.Thank you to the TOMODACHI Initiative for interacting with us and showing us how we can strengthen our ties.
To Japan: Thank you for leaving your forever handprint on my heart.
|TO THE KYUSHU SCHOLARS|
I miss and love you all so much! I can’t wait for us to meet again! Good luck in your future studies and fly to every journey you want to take. GANBATTE!
|TO THE UH SCHOLARS|
We did it! I love you all!