Friday, November 9, 2012

Thoughts on Kizuna Project (絆プロジェクト) in Pittsburgh, November 8.

Japanese Survivors Forum Allderdice Pittsburgh

Last night Allderdice High hosted students and faculty from Hitachi Dai Ni High School, who described their experiences rebuilding and recovering from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in their prefecture. The Tribune-Review wrote a little about it this morning:
The Kizuna Project has brought 1,000 students from Japan to American high schools, and vice-versa, to “encourage a greater understanding of the youth of Japan and the U.S. by providing a first-hand experience with the culture,” said Noriko Yamamoto.

She is program director of the Grassroots Exchange and Education Program for the Japan Foundation Center, based in Tokyo, which is assisting with the project.

“I hope this exchange will help us understand each other and make a good relationship for us in the future,” Yui said.

The Allderdice students helped raise money for the recovery effort, in part by selling origami paper cranes they made.

Some students who visited Japan said they were amazed at how well the nation recovered.

“I learned the importance of working together with others and not panicking and fretting,” said Brandon Naccarato, 17, of Lawrenceville. “If everyone is calm and working together, we can get together through everything.”
The two-hour event consisted of a performance by Pittsburgh Taiko, two presentations from visiting Japanese high school students about their personal experiences last spring, brief speeches from Allderdice students who visited Japan this summer, a performance of " and light refreshments. One Japanese blogger in Pittsburgh shared her thoughts:
日立の生徒さんたちは主に震災とその後の様子を発表してくれた。私はもともと茨城県の出身なので、日立の震災の写真を見るのはとても辛かった。とくに、崩れ落ちた体育館の写真。北茨城市の五浦六角堂が津波で流されて跡形もなくなり、でもその後寄付で再建されたとの報告も。

ピッツバーグの和太鼓グループの演奏がとてもすばらしかった。日米協会のスタッフによる、ゆかた着付けコーナーもにぎわっていた。(ゆかたの生地の質がとてもよく、感心した。)

高校生同士の交流は、体験する本人にとってはもちろん、その周りの家族、友達、そして今日の私のように報告を聞くだけの立場の「街の人」にとっても、ものすごくインパクトがある。というか、私も16年前は、ミシガン州に行った交換留学生であった。国家防衛費のほんの一部でも高校生交流事業に回して、今以上に交流事業を活発にしたら、戦争はなくなるとかなり真剣に思う。
There were also brief remarks from local politicians, though the event didn't really need to include them. The mayor's office and city council both issued proclamations, but both representatives left before the Japanese students began their presentations, and councilman Corey O'Connor spent more time chatting about his high school coaching career than appreciating the significance of the Kizuna Project. The students and faculty from both schools have worked very hard to create meaningful bonds across borders and cultures, and their results---not drive-by photo-ops---should take center stage.

These particular Hitachi Dai Ni students were in Washington D.C. earlier in their trip, and will head to New York City next.

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