Yesterday morning the first thing I did when I woke up was to practice in front of the mirror on how to say "I love you". Why? Because my mom was seeing me off to the airport and I was determined to let her know that I loved her before I left. It's one of those... go to a far away college and you will come back a different daughter kind of moments. Anyways, it's not hard to guess that I still couldn't do it. No matter how many facial exercises and elaborate "I love you"'s I had to pull out in front of the mirror. But you know, a part of me felt that I didn't have to say it. I think the soft "bye" we both waved at each other while I drove away encompassed everything we felt and more. Yup. Thanks mom.
From sappy to confusingly tired, I have always found an enemy with Delta airlines. I left at 8am in the morning to get to LAX to catch a flight at 11:30. Flight got delayed several times and then finally canceled. In the end, I took a 3pm flight and barely made it to the waiting JASC buddies at SFO. Literally, I had to run onto the bus and we were off. Surprisingly I didn't lose my temper and start yelling at the rude staff that became annoyed when us passengers went up to ask about the flight status. Weren't they supposed to be sorry? Well, no point in being upset about something not in my control.
Anyways, when I stepped onto the bus I received such a warm welcome from everyone, it finally hit me that I was about to go onto an amazing journey with some amazing people.
Once we arrived at Berkeley we checked in to the dorms and went out to eat some typical dining hall food. At night we had some more introductions with everyone and played a couple of ice breaker games. We played the blanket name game and well even though I think I did a good job in looking like I was trying to remember a person's name, I knew that there was no way I could recall. I'm sorry I'm so bad with names.
By the time we ended it was 10pm and everyone basically knocked out. I mean knocked out. Be it the jetlag or the full day schedule, we were all tired.
Breakfast - pretty straightforward. Some people actually woke up earlier to go for a run. Respect. Mad respect.
Japanese Etiquette Intro - So, So Nakayama gave us a quick intro about what to watch out for when we are in Japan and generally reminded us that we are "special" people and are going to be constantly watched for mistakes. I'm not that worried, I feel like we are a good group of mature people and any mistakes would be followed quickly with apologies.
Special Topics - To get us prepared for discussing our Round Table topics we were given some special topics to discuss about. Split into 4 groups we talked 25 minutes for each topic. The topics were questions like: does god exists, our take on spying on citizens for national security, social responsibility as people, racism in our legal system. It was made for us to be able to not feel reserved in voicing our opinions on touchy subjects and getting used to the idea that discussions aren't personal but academic. It would be impossible for me to write about everything everyone said but in a nutshell..... whether we had the same opinions or not, everyone's thoughts always made sense and had good reasoning. I found myself nodding and agreeing not just to the opinions, but to their ability to reason so well in justifying their answers. Well, that and we seem like a very liberal group. Open and liberal. I like it.
Lunch - Some fish taco and pizza? And nodding off every once in a while? Yeah.
Round Table Time - So at this point we split into our RT groups. Groups include: Social Minority, Aglobolization (agriculture+globalization) <--- The way So says it is just priceless, Security, Social Responsibility and Gov, Education, Cultech (culture+tech).
My group was Social Responsibility and Gov. Today we basically talked and discussed about education and its effect on economic equality, LGBT in Russia, aging population issue in Japan, and what are we going to do in the upcoming Tomodachi event which I will talk about tomorrow. Again, great discussion and beautiful ideas. Two hours passed in a flash and the communication that passed left me thankful for language. I can't wait for Japanese delegates to come in and show us their perspective on things. We finished quite early ;]
Free Time - Some people went out to shop and eat at Cream. I napped.
Skit - We had 3 hours to come up with a skit about American Culture to present to the Japanese Delegates. All thirty something of us needed a part and line. Normally I would think such a feat would be impossible, but there was something about this group of people that led me to have so much confidence in them. Everyone wanted to help and everyone had good ideas to pitch in. Nobody was sitting in a corner waiting for all the others to do all the work. There's just something about being around these people that makes me want to contribute and help out. The respect and trust is amazing. There's really no fear of being judged at all. It's a group and place where everyone's potential is reached.
Our JASC group gets along so well it's as if we decided to be friends even before we met each other. I suspect we all walked in with a open mind and open heart. For that, I am thankful.