Happy Halloween! This was certainly going to be a tricks or treat day, I think. Well, this is the day, as I understand it, that the JFMF people here in Tokyo are excited for. All the American teachers make their group presentations about their experiences. My group, the Ota-ku group, goes first. We have been asked to keep our presentations around 10 mintues. There are ten groups, with five minutes in between each. I have rehearsed and rehearsed my part—you see my part is all in Japanese! I have worked with Yvette who took many pictures and we wound up using her photos and computer as she had a good portion of the photos sorted out. She did use my pictures of the Mayor, the kids in the school yard, and the earthquake machine, and Emily. The groups were spread all across Japan. Being selfish, I think I had the best group. Not only in our experiences, but in the fact that Ota-ku was a brand new City to the JFMF program, so they really put the dog on, so to speak! I went down for breakfast and ate a little. It seemed as though there was less Japanese style foods and more western, but then maybe that’s all I picked up. I met quickly with some from my group, and then headed into the presentation room of the hotel, the Magnolia Room, which promptly started at 9am. Kyoko Jones made some opening remarks, and before we knew it, it was time to present. The 19 members of my group proceeded up to the front of this enormours room. In the audience of all the other teachers and dignitaries were our own dignitaries: Eiko our guide in Ota and Kazumi from Ota Board of Education. The members of our group that had speaking parts were on the left, at the podium with the Japanese and American flags. The podium had a microphone on it and then there was antoher microphone next to the podium on a stand. We started with a chant/cheer were learned at the elementary school: “Are you ready?, (responding) Yes, I am ready!” Then, I approached the podium microphone, with Sarah going to the microphone on the stand. I gave all the opening and welcoming remarks in Japanese, while Sarah did the English translations. The audience roared with laughter! (Good, it was intended!) There were nods of approval from our Ota dignitaries, too. Whew! Then Holly stepped to the microphone and made some remarks in-depth about the educational system of Ota, and some of the other things that we saw. Wesley came forward with remarks and thanks to those that helped, as well, as the slide show began. The slides and video were well received, and before I could really absorb all that was going on, the time was about over! It was time to give the thanks to the audience for their kind attention and listening so carefully….oh yes, again, all in Japanese! The audience clapped and clapped! Whew! Our part was now complete. And there were 9 groups to go. Kazumi and Eiko liked the presentation and show and we did what we were asked and that was to showcase the schools and what we learned of the area, and not be travelogue. They also complimented me on my Japanese!! In fact I heard about that all day, from Americans and Japanese! Hmm, maybe I have a future in this language? Kyoko Jones thanked us and it was the next group’s turn…the following groups were experiences of the teachers that traveled to the other 9 locations: Inagi; Chiba; and Shimada. Then we had a 20 minute break and continued with: Sakai; Tainai, Hemeji; Hiroshima; and Kagoshima. Then it was a buffet lunch break in Providence Hall from 11:45-1:15. I sat with members from my group and of course Eiko and Kazumi. We had a great time. Everyone left and I had a bit more conversation with the two ladies and then it was time for me to go. They both were on their way back to their homes and this would be the last time to see them. At 1:30, the final presentation took place and that was the group from Okinawa. Each group seemed to have similar experiences, but then unique parts that served their area or region. Interestingly enough, the Kagoshima teachers were in the shadow of a very active volcano, which blows ash and smoke on a farily regular off and on basis. While they were there for the week nothing, the day they left, the volcano burped up a little steam and ash! One of the teachers that went to Kagoshima brought me back a few volcanic cinders from the volcano. Those teachers in Okinawa were the farthest away during the week from mainland Japan. There are US military bases across Japan, but heavy fortifications at Okinawa. The US military is very welcome there. Japan only has a peace-keeping force, so alliance with the United States is very important today. During the WWII, the Battle of Okinawa was the most deadly and bloodiest of the wars of the Pacific, according to what these teachers shared with us. They had been treated very well by the local people and were also welcomed by the US military. One of the teachers brought me a small piece of coral from one of the beaches of Okinawa.
By 2pm all the presentations were concluded. Kyoko Jones gave a hearty thanks to everyone for all of their work. We had some final paperwork to conclude, noting that this was the last official session, not including the Sayonara Buffet/Goodbye party tonight. At this point, teachers interested in obtaining 6 or 10 credits from Seattle Pacific University, could officially register at this time, and all other paperwork, surveys, etc needed to be turned in. I registered for the SPU 10 credits (for a total of $500, which isn’t too bad for college graduate credits!) In order to satisfy the requirements of the JFMF/JUSEC, I must turn in a re-revised follow-on plan within two weeks, and then the final documents by June 1, 2008. Also, these serve as the final papers for the “class” at SPU, too. (all teachers participating in this program must do this in order to satisfy requirements of the program. Okay the obivious question for someone reading this is, well so what if you don’t do this and don’t care about the SPU credits? Okay, so no credits if you don’t. But, you must pay back all expenses incurred by the JFMF/JUSEC if the requirements are not fulfilled! And, anyway, why would anyone not want to do this, considering all the excellent preparations and time and money that was spent on us and also to support your own school corporation/s and giving them the appropriate thanks that they deserve).
It was now about 3:30 after all the paperwork and a call home to mom, to say I would see her sometime tomorrow…how weird! I ran up to my room and changed ties. It was Halloween and I wanted to wear my Jack O’Lantern tie out and about for a while. It was 3 hours until party time. I went out the front doors of the hotel and had a nice walk around. I walked over to the next door Shinto Shrine and Buddhist Temple. Took some pictures. Went into the temple, purchased some incense and lit it on the gas pyre and took it to the giant incense burner out in the yard and enjoyed it burning for a few minutes. I looked at the hundreds of statues of babies and children that were there in remembrance of deceased children. Each statue with a red woven hat, flowers, and pinwheels that were moving rapidly in the strong breezes of the moment. It was time to go back to the hotel and get ready for the party. I quickly changed and it was 6:15 and time to go back downstairs to the Sunflower Hall. We had to wait a few minutes as another Japanese convention was taking place and the staff hurried all of them into their banqueting hall and then our doors opened. Wow, there were carved pumpkins. Some were traditionally carved (or so it seemed. As I learned later, the pumpkins were carved from the bottom, so they were lifted up, the bottom cut out and then cleaned and carved from the inside out! Then a series of birthday candles were used in the illuminations. There was a chef on duty just to take care of the pumpkins!) Other pumpkins were etched with “Happy Halloween”. And then, other giant pumpkins were used as decorations.