Again this year, students were challenged to create a quilt to tell the story of their summer 2015 TOMODACHI experience. Under the guidance of Jacqueline Armstrong, mother of first-year TOMODACHI alumna and 2015 program intern Rebekah Armstrong, each student created a quilt panel that expressed what he or she had learned or gained from their individual experience. Together the panels tell the collective story of their group experience. Mrs. Armstrong will stitch the panels together to create two beautiful works of art – one will remain in DC; the second will reside in Japan.
S.M.: People nowadays feel like they know about a foreign place because there is abundant information online. In reality, you only get to know proficiently about a certain country once you visit, and explore.
H.S.: Without thinking, people form stereotypes inside their mind from the massive information that comes from outside. The important thing is to slow your mind, try to decide the person with your own eyes, not from the stereotypes inside your head.
Jarid: The background of the image is of the U.S. flag and the Japanese flag joining and meeting in the middle. The ribbon laying over both flags represents the thoughts of the Japanese students and the American students. The bow in the middle signifies all of our thoughts coming together. The ribbon and bow are light purple because it is a mix of all the colors of both flags: red, blue (in terms of the American flag), and white.
N.M.: I drew the fireworks that we watched while in Tohoku. There are 14 fireworks on here, which is the number of TOMODACHI members. They’re all in different shapes, sizes, colors, and it represents that even though we’re all different we can become a great team.
Caitie: To be and to coexist as individuals in our society, we must be able to work together and see each other through not just your perspective, but your teammates as well. We work together, hand and hand and heart by heart, to make the community better.
Dusan: Out of the soil that was gathered from us eighteen (students + chaperones) and our experiences together, we grew the central themes – such as storytelling and coexisting – as leaves for a tree still growing. However, the plant isn’t finished with its growth, and as such must keep moving forward, which is why kemushi is the center leaf and two caterpillars – representing the U.S. & Japan – have taken a bite out of it. Working together, we’ll always move forward.
Andres: The handshake with the US and Japanese flag on it represents the unity of this great friendship between the two nations. Mt.Fuji, Tokyo Tower, the Washington Monument and the White House are depicted as both iconic structures and things that I saw. TOMODACHI and Peace are written in both English and Japanese. Although we may have our differences in our respective countries we can unite to become Peaceful friends!
Nina: This is the shape of DC. Inside of it contains different ethnic flags, and it says “we are one.” I feel as if a big thing I learned was looking from different perspectives, so I think we should accept everyone else’s opinions.
Shigetatsu: I combined Japan and America into this quilt. Our members consisted of Tohoku, Tokyo, DC. I was able to gain new perspectives and knowledge from these three regions through this program. I hope coexisting of various kinds of people, nature and human beings and so on. It is definitely needed now!