I’ve been home in St. Louis for about two weeks now, yet my computer did some traveling without me! It finally arrived from Chicago the other day so now I am happy to share some thoughts regarding my last week in Hiroshima and what it has been like coming back to the United States.
My last week in Hiroshima was quite bittersweet. While in Japan I experienced the cultural norm that Japanese typically do not express personal emotions in public settings. Therefore I was actually surprised to receive so many hugs and even one woman teared up during my last goodbyes to my classes. In addition, several of our students gave Josie and I handmade mementos to remember them and our trip.
The two paintings on the right were a collaborative gift from our Wednesday morning English classes as they translated our names to kanji symbols (the translations of the characters are on the left) and one woman, Satchiko-san, from the class painted them on rice paper. The flower painting on the left is actually a stamp carved by one of the women, Miho-san. While we received many beautiful cranes, I am still kicking myself for not learning how to fold them while I was in Japan.
Since I’ve been back home the two things that immediately occurred to me was the heat and the sugary sweets, kind of silly right? While in Hiroshima, the heat was never higher than 85 degrees. As I am typing this now, it is currently 103 degrees in Saint Louis. My sweet tooth has definitely carried over since Japan as well, (Japanese desserts are A+ if I may add). While many of our English students commented how sugary American foods were, it never really struck me until I came home and ordered an ice cream sundae with my brother. I could barely finish half of the sundae when I had to put it down – and let me tell you, I am NOT one to turn down any dessert. As taste buds change do change often, mine are still craving the less sugary Japanese desserts – especially the green tea ice cream.
Looking back on my trip to Japan, I feel so lucky to be a part of such a remarkable experience. My supervisor, Maggie, shared a copy of Barbara Reynolds book and a copy of a guide to the Radiation Effects Research Foundation. I have started sharing both books with my family and friends as I tell them about the World Friendship Center and my personal relationships I formed with the people I met through the center. While many of the people I interacted with were at least 40 years older than myself, our conversations and stories taught me so much and helped me to grow.
Finally I would like to say thanks to everyone who supported me during my internship. The support from my parents, adviser, friends and my partner Josie sustained me during my trip and I cannot say thank you enough. And finally, thank you to everyone who kept up with my blog during my travels.