Goodbye and Welcome

At 7 am, all of us gathered in the lobby of the airport hotel to take our breakfast. Despite the excitement of going to Tokyo, all of us were exhausted from forcing ourselves to stay awake to be able to sleep on the plane.

At 7:30, we arrived at BWI airport and checked in our luggage but there was a little trouble which happened to us Japanese students. Because we bought lots of souvenirs in Washington, D.C. and brought lots of things we’ll need from Japan, our luggages were overweight and we had to lessen the weight of the luggage. After that, we took the flight to Chicago for about 2 hours to take another flight that goes to Narita. However, it looked like there was an engine problem, and the plane delayed for about 3 hours. Finally, when we were able to take the flight, it was already 15:30.

At last at 19:00 the next day we arrived at Narita airport. To us Japanese students, it was a familiar airport, although to D.C. students it seemed that the entire thing was a whole new place and they were very excited. One thing I was very surprised was that when we got to immigration we Japanese only had to show our passports and our faces to the machine, and that was only for a second. However, for foreigners like the D.C. students, it took a really long time and I felt a bit sad about how people aren’t able to enter other countries easily. I thought that in the future, I hope that I’ll be able to see people traveling to foreign countries happily.

Anika Shimizu
Keio Shonan Fujisawa Senior High School

Anika’s Home Stay

Today I went out with my host family to the bay. The forecast said it would rain all day but it turns out that there would be a few hours with no rain and the sun was out. We first went to the trail course near the bay, but it was raining when we arrived, so we had a quick lunch at “Kim’s Key Lime Pie” and it was delicious. After that we went back to the trail course near the bay and walked all the way to “Calvert Cliff.” I heard from my host family that it is famous for shark teeth that are easily found but I couldn’t find any of them.

While we were approaching the bay I felt a sense of nature and the beautiful feeling you get when walking outside; it was a funny experience because I was able to enjoy nature near the city that is in the capital of U.S. In Japan. Although there is plenty of nature in Japan, it’s usually far away from the neighborhoods and having places in the city where people can walk together with their dogs is something that you don’t see that often. Also, because they have such a convenient public transportation, there are fewer people who walk outside so I think this was an excellent opportunity to go outside and feel the natural side of D.C. On the way to our car walking on the trail, it started to rain a bit and just after we got on to the day it started to pour. I was glad that we had the perfect timing to go out for a walk. It was such an active day to spend this summer and I loved it so much.

Anika Shimizu
Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum

On Friday, July 20, at the end of Week 1, the TOMODACHI USJYEP group spent the morning visiting the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. The experience was powerful, as always, and for many of the students (both from DC and Japan) this was new information, so particularly shocking. We asked each student to share a moment of maximum impact or significance.

Racquel: The Holocaust Museum as a whole was a lot to take in all at once. It was very moving, and really helped me understand what that time period was like. One exhibit that specifically caught my eye, and touched my heart, was called “Daniel’s Story.” It walked me through the life of a young Jewish boy before, during, and after the Holocaust. I had the ability to attempt to understand many of the struggles he went through, and all the pain he endured. I watched as his life went from peace and happiness, to disaster, devastation, and hopelessness. This exhibit really allowed for me to see what it was like to live under Hitler’s reign, as a Jew during the Holocaust era.

* discrimination
* prejudice
All terrible things start from discrimination and prejudice (black, white, Jewish, man, woman)

Arjernae: The survivors who spoke out after the Jews were freed from the camps was one of the many things that shook me. Also, the fact that people who were hospitalized were being murdered by hospital staff without the families’ knowledge. That they were experimenting and taking people who weren’t really sick hostage, just to burn their bodies and come up with a cover story about how people’s loved ones died, because of “sickness,” is sickening itself.

Noa: I Iooked at the exhibit on children’s shoes. I can imagine the view of the many children.

Jerusalen: “You are my witness” (Isaiah 43:10). I think when I saw the biblical quote on the wall, it hit me that the quotes said in the bible can relate to so many problems in the world, the people affected being Jews. The quote from a bible has a great impact on their relationship with religion. That stuck with me while seeing all the other exhibits. I think the other thing that impacted me was the room where you could light a candle for the Jews and soldiers. The tranquillity in the room made me feel peace.

Minori: About 8 people slept in a tiny space together. When one of them died, others used his things, such as shoes, clothes. Also, when they wanted to pee, they just peed while lying in bed, so others experienced the bad smell. I realized how important storytelling is through this experience.

Miles: I viewed a short film within the first exhibit. Firstly, the ambiance of the theater was fitting for the rest of the museum, was extremely dark with industrial features. The film was about the religious persecution Jews faced throughout history well before the Holocaust. Starting during the Crusades, thousands of Jews were killed by the hands of Christians. Jews were also painted as devilish/demonic figures with art pieces depicting them drinking children’s blood. The film also touched on how Martin Luther expected Jews to convert to Christianity during the Protestant Reformation. So when Jews decided to keep their faith, he called for the burning of synagogues and Jewish people’s homes. I found the film extremely interesting because I wasn’t aware of the long history of violence and persecution towards Jews prior to the Holocaust.

Anika: An image of babies piled up in the ground of the camp because they’re dead (dead babies).

Carlos: There’s a billboard in the “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibit which is a question to the public at the time:

What impacted me was the response:

“Yes 93%” and “No 1%” and “Don’t Know 6%.” I was impacted by the level of racism and discrimination that used to be, because they used to get scared that I’m related to.

Keiichiro: I was affected by the “Smile Photo” in the Holocaust Museum. I felt discomfort for it. Why? Why do they smile? The Holocaust is said to be so terrible. But at that time, people who live in Germany (not Jews) are smiling.

Shunsuke: “Amcho” is a word that was used by Jews to identify themselves as Jewish when they weren’t allowed to name themselves as Jewish during World War II. It’s kind of a secret word in Jewish. Jewish is human. They all have names, born, personality, and others like us. However, they didn’t have any rights or opportunity to name Jewish. They were discriminated against as aliens. As they were heading to their death by inhumane ways.

Noa: I looked at this – children’s shoes. I can imagine the view of the many children.

Naoki: When war has happened, human beings can do that.