Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 3 and 4 - Getting Serious and Getting to Japan

Day 3

A typical day?

8:00-8:45AM Breakfast!
Berkeley food is ok. Not incredible but not as bad as Villanova. Good thing cereal never changes.

9:00-11:30AM Networking Session
The EC (Executive Commitee) members showed us how to exchange business cards and enter/leave a conversation. They taught things like having to bow deeper than the person we are exchanging business cards with and also having to give the card beneath theirs. It was educational and fun at the same time. Business cards... Man I'm getting old.

11:50-1:00PM Lunch
Cheeseburger was surprisingly good. Good break in the day to get know each other more.

1:30PM-3:30PM Tomodachi Event

More than 100 high school students from Japan arrived to meet us at Berkeley. Each round table split up and took a group of students with them to teach them about what we discuss in our RT. In return, the students shared their stories with us - stories about the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that followed. Needless to say, I felt that they taught us more than we to them. Stories varied from students who volunteered to help out, to stories of watching their hometown wash away. A girl even pulled up a photo on her Ipad to show us the aftermath. We were shocked speechless. I don't know about the other members but I was definitely moved to tears.

A recurring theme though, was that they were still struggling with rebuilding their lives. Temporary homes, schools, and debris still remain even after 2 years. They say that even though the memory is beginning to become a past, the present aftermath never fails to remind them of what happened. At this point I wondered, quite frustratingly, why the Japanese government doesn't put in more effort to help rebuild. Is it not their social responsibility to bring security to these people? However, although they never got a chance to reply, I got an overall feeling that they never thought about asking more of the government. They sort of just accepted that it was all the government could do and instead turned their hopes to local volunteers to help rebuild.

"It's the government's social responsibility to bring security to its people, but it is also the people's responsibility to let the government know what is needed and wanted in the nation"

Honestly, I talked and ranted so much I felt bad that the other RT members didn't really get a chance to voice their thoughts.

All ofthe above was translated by Nory (our Japanese speaking American delegate) who did an incredible job! Thank you!!!

6:00-8:30PM JAsC Reception

Why the gap between 3:30 and 6pm? Well we had 20 minutes to change into business formal and put our game face on, and then we had to walk/jog to the train station. Eventually we ended up in a very very beautiful reception room facing the ocean. In between were some pictures, a lot of exercise, and a little complaining about running in heels - mostly by me. But that's beside the point. The real show was about to just begin.

JASC alumni. Prominent, successful, "holy geezes am I really meeting these people" alumni. From meeting a secret author to the vice president of student affairs for the UC school system, I was left speechless with their passion about their work. There were also some alumni that kept in touch for over 40 years, and all I could ask them was "how did you do that without facebook"?

I'd say at least 60? people showed up to greet us and send us off, some may not have been alumni but they worked with Japan American societies. And this is just people from San Fran. Even so, it is impossible to write about all the people I met that night.

As nervous as I felt with networking, the friendly and eager attitudes of the attendees made me feel much more comfortable. Even when I felt overwhelemed, I could retreat back to my JASC buddies and partner up with them for some moral support. Overall, we did well and I believe we left the reception finally understanding the scope of JASC and how lucky we were to be a part of it.

Ah, this short summary of the reception really does no justice to all that happened that night. I don't know how to capture the passion that embraced us in that room.
Thank you, to all the people that helped make this happen.

8:30-10:00PM Travel Time
Painful for the ladies who had been in heels all day, but it was also just a good cool down walk/ride back to Berkeley. Tired and full of feels... Great combination.

10:00-11:00PM Reflection Time
A time for us to speak our minds and wallow in our feels.

Day 4 We. Are. Going. To. JAPAN.

Wake up at 5:30am to pack. Eat breakfast. Go to airport by bus. See Golden Gate Bridge. Go through check in/security and wander around until boarding time at 12:10. While wandering, eat mexican food because we realized that we probably won't get to have that at Japan. Yummy steak nachos. Board Plane. Can't fall asleep and feeling tired. Layover in Tokyo. Board plane again to Osaka. Holy shiznits I can't believe we are in Japan. Arrive at Osaka. Board Bus to Kyoto University. Warm welcome from Japadeles. Feels sorry because we all look and feel like zombies. Introductions, food, shower, sleep. Goodnight.

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