Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Volunteer Trip to Tohoku.

I have been up to the Tohoku region over ten times during this year abroad for various projects.  However, my most recent trip last weekend was an especially insightful experience. 

During this trip I joined Team Asunaro and Youth for 3.11 in a number activities.  These included giving a speech about how I started my volunteer activities to children living in temporary housing and helping out the local fishing industry with their wakame (seaweed) harvests.  The fishing industries in this region are the backbone of the local economy, their recovery embodies the resilience of the Tohoku people.  

Working alongside these fishermen was an incredible experience.  Being able to contribute to the recovery of Tohoku's economy with my own hands felt very gratifying and really gave me the feeling that things are finally improving in Tohoku.  

An elementary school that suffered damage from the quake and it set for demolition.

The temporary elementary school built until the new school is constructed. 

My roommate Kris Tom and I preparing to go into the school to give our presentations.
The entryway. 

During my presentation I told the students about my T-shirt fundraiser that raised $11,000 and about the generous donations from the American people.  I also told these students about my aspirations to work in the field of America-Japan relations in the future. 

I tried my best to give my speech in Japanese, but some topics were too difficult for me.  Kris helped to translate the parts of my presentation that I could not convey.  

When asked about their dreams for the future, this child stood up and declared he wanted to be a baseball player.

This girl told us that she wished to be a dancer. 

The vice Principle observing our presentations. 

Kris Tom giving his speech about having a dream for the future.  

Shimpei Suga, the leader of this program, also gave a speech to the children. 

The 5th and 6th grade class who attended our presentation.

Lunch at the temporary food court nearby the school

Following our presentations, we then went to assist the fishing industries with their annual wakame harvest! 

Wakame transferred from the ships for cutting.

Cutting Mekabu from its stem.

Sakura were also in full bloom!

As were many other flowers. 

The port where we worked. 

Tamoka Okamura, a professional photographer who was also on the trip.  He lent me some of his lenses and gave me some tips on my photography techniques. 

The Team Asunaro volunteer group.

Kimura Senshin and his wife, the owners of the fishery we volunteered at. 

A shiba inu at the temporary housing complex we stayed at.  

Dinner that night. 

Onagawa City before March 11th.

The aftermath. 
Cement blocks for the reconstruction of the storm break in Onagawa City. 

After our volunteer work, our group went to a park to see the sakura. 

I really enjoyed this volunteer trip and will try to volunteer again before I leave.  If you would like to take part in a program like this, please let me know in the comment section. Our group is always looking for volunteers!  

1 comment:

  1. Grateful to all your hard work during your busy college life.
    School children who suffered from 3.11 Tsunami disaster were all encouraged to hear and know your and Kris's presentation about the meaning of life in your personal words !!