Do you remember how excited you were when you found out that you would be spending the spring break of 2017 in Japan? You immediately thought of all the good food you would eat and all the shopping you would do. It was almost too good to be true.
But this trip was not a vacation. Not by a long shot.
Of course, it was fun. But learning about Japanese culture was more than eating sushi or saying arigato. It was about listening to how current Japanese foreign policy was shaped by their history. It was about realizing the pride that Japanese people have in their lineage and how their identity is constantly adapting with the globalization of the world. It was about seeing firsthand how far technology has come in a country that preserves and respects its past while striving toward the future.
The structure and organization of this trip made it such a unique opportunity. Every single activity scheduled for the duration of our trip expanded your view of Japan. It added a depth and complexity to the Japanese identity that you were not even aware existed. Even further, you got to experience these things with your fellow Kakehashi TOMODACHI Inouye Scholars. These peers, while all students at UH Manoa, come from various backgrounds and fields of academic study. This integration allowed you to gain insight into their perspective and allowed all of you to participate in an exchange of ideas, feelings, and beliefs that enriched the experience further.
It was an amazing spring break.
But your journey did not end when you returned home to Hawaii. With all that you had experienced and learned, you were charged to become a bridge between the U.S. and Japan – to cultivate mutual understanding and trust among people from different cultural backgrounds so that the friendship between the two countries could continue successfully.
I hope I do you proud.