Busy Day and Food

Morning in the sharehouse is a special time for me. Today AJ and Jeru and Kei and Noa made breakfast. It was so good! The songs that Miles were singing while taking shower were enhancing mood.

First of all, we were discussing about “Hikikomori” with two people of Myogadani club. There are about 1 million “Hikikomori” people. In 2000, there was an incident and people became prejudice against “Hikikomori.” The power of the media is large. Many people do not doubt the information of the media. Many of them want to live well and connect with people. They need support. One of my classmates is a “Hikikomori.” He is not coming to school for a half year. I was thinking about what I could do for him. I want to understand him. Acceptance, empathy, congruence (being genuine); I value this and I want to make a fun class and wait for him to come.

And we ate soba. It was cold and the best. Heavenly was eating deliciously next to me.

Secondly, we visited IDEO. IDEO is a global design company committed to creating positive impact. They will design the future to create innovative products and services and create new business aiming for overseas expansion. The office was a space I’ve never seen before. I felt like a place where a worker could freely be theirself. And we shared about the world in 2040. I would like to share my opinion. I will be a photographer. This job is to communicate the unknown. I will solve lack of empathy for many travelers. It was very difficult to think of the future but it was fun.

In Harajuku we went to Meiji shrine and Takeshita street. We paid a visit to a Shinto shrine. Takeshita street looked like a jungle. I went shopping with Carlos and Heavenly. Why is Harajuku always so crowded?

After that I went shopping with AJ and Jeru in “Urahara”. It was so fun!

We went to “Bio ojiyan café.” I was happy to have delicious meal with a nice atmosphere.

I am looking forward to seeing what we can see and what we can eat tomorrow.

Fuka Matsumoto
Iwaki Koyo High School

Expressing Myself

Firstly, we participated in a quilting workshop led by Mrs. Jackie Corbin-Armstrong, the mother of a former TOMODACHI student. We painted the image of TOMODACHI. I think TOMODACHI represents to connect with people across the border like this program. That is why I tried to combine American hamburger and Japanese national flags and expressed with big heart that there are people supporting us. And the big heart expressed the people who always support us. Also I was impressed by the picture that Shun painted. This was from an hourglass. Blue stars expressed the United States and red circles expressed Japan.  These were drawn separately in this. This means that we must understand each other and make the relationship get better as time goes on.

Secondly, in the afternoon, we went to a popular DC restaurant and event space, Busboys and Poets, to meet with the owner, Andy Shallal, and to recite the poetry we had written earlier with Regie Cabico at the poetry workshop. Five people read their poems in front of others. I felt everyone was shining. I had a difficult image to create poems at first. But actually it was fun to think about myself, about my family, my friends, and what I like from my mind.

There are many ways to express myself through poems, pictures, clothes, dances, and songs. We can express ourselves with everything. At the same time, I thought that expressing myself was a chance to review what I am.

There are many ways but all of the ways may be difficult to express myself. But to keep my mind down is more painful than that. I think that we follow our mind individually is the most important thing.

Fuka Matsumoto
Iwaki Koyo 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.

Learning About Sojourner Truth

In the story of African Americans, I was impressed by a woman named Sojourner Truth.

She was sold as a slave and forced to marry. But she never gave up being free even though she had not promised her freedom. She raised up to get back her child who was trafficked and made a charge against the society to get freedom and hope. Also her speech “Ain’t I a woman?” became a symbol for all strong women. She learned the skills of speech by herself and attracted many people in this speech. This action became a key to abolish New York slavery.

One’s action can make a big thing. So what happens if many people act in concert? What will happen if people unite to solve a big problem?

I learned the importance of involving with others to do something well.

She has grown her skills and I think that she changed the minds of people who think that I cannot do anything by myself. I want to be a strong woman who can influence strongly people with my own power like her.

Sojourner means a constantly proceeding person. Truth means the truth.

America is a society of diversity but there have been many sacrifices and efforts to come here. We have to tell this truth to future generations.

Fuka Matsumoto
Iwaki Koyo High School