So as I have mentioned before, I am interning at a nonprofit bed and breakfast called the World Friendship Center. The World Friendship Center was started by Barbara Reynolds in 1965 as a part of her mission to encourage the elimination of nuclear weapons and to spread her message of peace. Although Reynolds passed away in 1990, the World Friendship Center has strongly carried her message with the activities that take place here today.
A majority of the financial support WFC receives is through the guests who stay here overnight. Therefore, Josie and I help with preparing/clearing breakfast, cleaning and guest room preparation. In addition to breakfast, the guests are also provided a Peace Park tour and a personal account from a Hibakusha. While many Hibakusha are assisted by an interpreter in sharing their story, one man, Soh-san, shares his story in English. I have had the pleasure of attending these stories as well.
The second source of income comes from the English lessons given here from Tuesday-Saturday. At this point in our internship, Josie and I have gone from assisting the classes to taking over many of the classes. Teaching English classes has been my favorite part of working at the WFC. I enjoy teaching the students not only new vocabulary, but more about my life and culture, as well as hearing about their lives and culture. These classes will last for two hours, plus tea time in the middle with tea and Japanese snacks.
WFC also hosts a peace choir once a month using the piano in the center. Josie and I take part as well. As we have been practicing our Japanese, one of our English students has been so generous as to help us for two hours each week. With this help, we have been able to slowly transition from translating the music to roman-ji to reading the hiragana on the music sheets. Soh-san, who I mentioned before, is the only male in the choir and his voice absolutely soars (he later explained that he used to be an opera singer). Josie and I sing the songs we learn with the peace choir once a month at a local nursing home. Next week, we will be joining the choir to perform at a nearby elementary school.
Lastly, as a part of our internship duties we lead “Fun Time in English,” which is hosted at the Center once a month. While it is mostly English class members who attend, sometimes others from the community will join as well. “Fun Time in English” will usually consist of a native English speaker sharing a presentation or a movie. Then this is followed by a cooking class taught in English. Everyone is provided the recipe in Japanese and English and we all sit down to enjoy the meal after. Last month, Josie dazzled everyone with her presentation on swing dancing, the history of the Lindy Hop and its effects upon breaking the barrier of segregation in New York ballrooms. Josie has been dancing a few years now and even performed a few moves for the class. After Josie’s presentation, we enjoyed last month’s recipe: Big Gyoza. Rather than making many small potstickers, we made one large, pan-sized potsticker and it was delicious. This month I will be leading the “Fun Time in English” on this Saturday. I will be giving a presentation based upon my research I conducted last fall for my Peoples and Cultures of East Africa class. I will be discussing the Maasai people of East Africa and their history and relationship with the lions in that region. Within the past decade, lion populations have dropped drastically and the Maasai people have been switching their roles as lion hunters to lion protectors. I am very excited to share my presentation and thus far the English students have been very intrigued by my topic. After my presentation, we will have a cooking class to learn how to make Chinese fried chicken with a special sauce. So if folks won’t be interested in coming for my presentation, there is always the lure of some yummy food.