October 31: Travel Day

Refoo LMFAOLuke:

Landing day. After a brutal 10 hour flight filled with movies, sleep, and airplane food, we landed in Istanbul, Turkey. The orangey-brown rooftops of the Byzantine buildings poked through the fog right before our plane’s wheels screeched into the ground. We were in Turkey. We stepped into the rainy air from the plane, the wind was surprisingly chilly and definitely broke some of my expectations of Istanbul, considering how my imagination expected Lawrence of Arabia, and not Singing in the Rain.

The airport is confusingly big, and it took us a long time to find our lounge.  Luckily that gave us time to learn our way around a bit. After settling down in the lounge, Micah, Malaika, Gabby, and I decided to leave the lounge to go get food. We found a Popeye’s, but we were much more excited by who we ran into. We met Redfoo, one half of the electronic pop duo LMFAO. He was very kind and took pictures with us. The first day has definitely been eventful.

Sierra:

Today was my first international flight, and it was amazing! I only grabbed Gabby in moments of panic about three times. I imagined that I was flying, flying above the clouds and hundreds of places, millions of people. It was awesome. I made it, and I am so proud of myself.

Micah:

My first traveling experience has been astounding so far. We landed to see the beautiful red roofs of the Istanbul coast. I have had an amazing time exploring the airport and comparing its cultural differences to Dulles Airport. Already this experience is triggering a sense to travel in me! As much as I want to explore Istanbul now, I can only expect to feel the same when we arrive in Japan tomorrow.

Gabby:

As our destination gets nearer and nearer, my excitement to get to Japan grows! I am really looking forward to exploring Japan with our TOMODACHI group and can’t wait to get here. I am nervous/excited about all the new things that I will be exposed to in Japan and will try to be as open to new experiences as I can. I am really thankful for this amazing opportunity and will try my hardest to get everything I can out of the trip.  I am looking forward to meeting my host family, seeing my host sister once again and eating lots of ramen 🙂  I know that our entire TOMODACHI family will have an amazing experience and can’t wait to start our journey.

Malaika:

Today has been full Turkish Ice Creamof excitement and things I will never forget. I’m still in shock that I am on this amazing trip and that I’m in Istanbul, Turkey on my way to Japan. I tried Turkish ice cream served to me by a very entertaining man. Also, we met a member of the group known as LMFAO!  This was such an amazing experience. This is also my first time staying in a lounge in an airport and the longest layover I’ve ever had to endure. I’m glad I could spend it with my other TOMODACHI. I can’t wait to make it to Japan and make more memories.

On March 11, 2011

The people of Tohoku were attacked relentlessly.
An attack by a military with no men and no weapons but the force of 1,000 bombs. Exploding off the coast, a military formed in their own backyard,
a chilling reminder of the fragility of human society.
A civil war that contained no traces of civility.

There must’ve been tears that day,
more than tears, there were children lost and families unraveled
when bandages were wrapped around vengeful wounds.
But tears became war paint, smeared on the peoples’ cheeks,
sobs became seeds that sparked the growth of a new Japanese soul.
An unbreakable pine tree, soaking up an unbreakable spirit through its roots.
Roots that run deep.

Luke Nogueira
Duke Ellington School of the Arts

The Great East Japan Earthquake

On Tuesday, October 28, the DC TOMODACHI students had their last pre-departure meeting before heading to Japan on Friday, October 31 (Halloween). For the final activity, the students went to the Japan Quake Map, a website that provides a time-lapse visualization of the Sendai earthquake and its aftershocks – for every day up to the present. Then students were asked to write what they felt as they thought about their upcoming travels to Japan and to the Tohoku region.

Micah:

It started off with a few small earthquakes, but afterwards came one large earthquake that spanned most of Japan and even the coast of China! Multiple earthquakes of different danger levels struck the Tohoku region of Japan. I can imagine that Sendai and Minamisanriku were in an extremely drastic state of emergency. I can now understand how the Tohoku region is still in a low state, the fear people must have felt, and how the prefecture of Miyagi memorializes a tall standing pine tree to represent the perseverance of the people. I want to help more, because I feel how significant this earthquake was and still is.

Sierra:

Watching the video really had frightened me. I can imagine the horror, the pain, and the destruction. The documentaries gave me a good idea of what happened, but seeing multiple earthquakes happen makes my heart jump in fear. Going to Japan makes me anxious to see what Tohoku looks like. Will it be the major destruction or is it improving? I want to know these people’s stories, about their lives.

Malaika:

After watching the demonstration, I now realize the true magnitude and frequency of the earthquakes that struck on 3/11. Before viewing the earthquakes, I felt more like a disaster tourist in the Tohoku region. However, I now feel like I have a deeper respect for the people of the region that survived 3/11 and their strength to carry on despite their losses. I feel as though I can have a greater influence and positive effect in raising awareness and telling the victims’ stories. The earthquakes shook me in their severity, but have opened my eyes on the efforts needed to support the area and those living in it.

Gabby:

The virtual imaging of the 78 earthquakes that hit the Tohoku region in Japan was astonishing and very frightening. The impact of the earthquakes was already very real in my mind because of the documentaries and images we saw on the effects of the quake, but the imaging of just how many quakes hit and how close they hit together added to that understanding on how serious the earthquakes were. The imaging also added to my want to see and hear the stories of what happened for myself. I look forward to hearing the stories of the people involved in the quake and learning more about what really went on that day, and how I can better help the survivors.