October, 2013: Breeze Issue #72

A Free Monthly E-Newsletter for Friends of Japan & Teachers of Japanese

Lian Eytinge

Capital High School
Olympia, WA

When looking back on this trip I come to realize just what an impact JET-MIP made on my life. It all started in LA where we all met in the lobby of the hotel. Not all the kids where there and I was wondering just what kind of people I would meet. Turns out that over the course of two and a half weeks I would meet some of my best friends who I would continue to keep in contact with.  Together we experienced Japan in big moments and littler moments, each with their own special shine, creating memories that would last for a life time. 

I had no idea what kind of things we would be able to do on this trip and so I was in for an unexpected surprise when we learned Osaka dialect and different forms of speech in manga in our classes. The institute was such an enjoyment; the food, the people and our dorms made me feel at home with comfort in both private and public facilities. 

Going to Tohoku was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. The scenery was unlike anything I had ever seen before in my life. Rikuzentakata with its peaceful mountains and lush forests were very different from my hometown's surrounding nature. For instance, instead of evergreen trees there were bamboo forests. I had never seen a bamboo forest before. It was amazing to see the subtle changes in nature and how beautiful it all was, it was easy to see where Japanese kimono patterns came from.

Also by going to Japan I learned that someone has the ability to touch a person's life forever even if they only meet for a short time. All the high school students at Rikuzentakata with their bright smiles and lively personalities were an experience that will stay with me forever. Both of my home stays which were completely different made me feel closer to the Japanese people and gave me a better sense of character.

Before going to Japan I wasn't expecting much from the trip. I didn't know how much the land with all of its culture and people could affect me the way it did. Every little thing I experienced, from eating ice cream after onsen or simply walking across a huge crosswalk in a big city with at least 80 other people. I had come to fall in love with all the vending machines, bicycles and shiba inus. Getting this little taste of Japan has ignited a spark of ambition within me to continue learning Japanese and someday live there. Right now I will bite at any opportunity that is possible for me to go back because there is still so much to learn and so much to experience. I grew fond of Japan and its people so I want to continue my studies in hopes of understanding and communicating better.

After JET MIP and a good 24 hours of sleep later I showed my pictures to my mom and close friends. They had no idea what to expect and afterwards they too could understand why I want to go back so much. I think everyone has a little bit more knowledge about what to do in case of a tsunami and will keep the stories I learned in Tohoku alive forever. 

I want to say thank you to Taylor and Monty for sharing your precious memories with us. You will never be forgotten. You have helped me realize truly that there is a future waiting for me and that I have choices after college to become a JET. Because of you I now know what I want which is to someday live in Japan. Also you have taught me a very important lesson: The world is big and full of possibilities and dreams that you have to go after. Thanks to this trip I can identify my dream for the future and go try with all my might to make it into a reality. It's funny, I have never really had a goal before but that is exactly what I gained from JET MIP. There is a starting point with clear check points and also a final point. Thanks to you both my life has a clear aim to focus on and that is something very rare and very special to me. When I climbed up that steep Hiyori-yama park in Ishinomaki, I realized that the ascent up the stairs symbolizes many things surrounding me: the very trip we were on, the lives of the people of the affected areas, and most importantly a life lesson. The life lesson is even though there is struggle; as long as you persevere you will reach the top eventually and be glad you made the effort for the wonderful achievement. What you guys gave me was my own mountain to climb so thank you. 

Nippon Through My Eyes Photo Submission

"Kizuna"

This picture represents the kizuna or bond we made with the students during our school visits. It reminds me of how even though it was a short time, lives can touch only once and make a huge impact.