Everyday I am so grateful that I am here in Hiroshima. Coming here, I had no idea the experiences I would have or the people I would meet. I have learned so much and have met so many wonderful people.
Hiroshima is a beautiful city. I could walk around the city for hours and hours and from day 1 I have found it hard not to. Walking around the city, one really can feel the peace that resides here. The peace of the city also resides within the people. The people are helpful, cheerful, and are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. It is difficult to not feel this magnetic attraction to Hiroshima.
As we are approaching close to 65 years since the A-Bomb was dropped, the Hibakusha are steadily growing older and older and unfortunately they are leaving this life. Many are struggling to remember. Details are forgotten and people do not know if what they are telling is actually factual. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to meet them, to talk with them and even get to know them. One of them, Soh-San, is in his 70’s and is still the most cheerful and energetic man I have met. He is one of the only Hibakusha to tell his story in English. Lindsey and I had the opportunity to go out to lunch with him, make a drive to a coy pond to feed some coy up in the mountains, and even visited a shrine at the base of the mountain. Then to end the trip we bought some cakes to take back to the directors of the World Friendship Center. While this trip might not be considered wholly academic, I think it is worth mentioning because every moment one lives through can have something to teach us. This Hibakusha with all of his memories and stories…with everything that he lived through…was taking the time to spend the day with us. How many people will have this experience?
Being able to teach English to the Hibakusha and their Legacy Keepers, as well as those who want to guide people through the Peace Park has been a very rewarding experience. Not only have I learned information that has been valuable for my research, but I have been able to be a part of their lives for a short period of time. I feel that I have been able to form this detailed picture of what happened in Hiroshima after the A-Bomb, what the people went through, when the dialogue started to take shape and why it did at that certain time. I have also formed a better understanding of what the attitudes of the Hibuksha and others within Hiroshima towards the United States was and how those attitudes changed. I have a better understanding of the reconstruction of Hiroshima, such as a specific timeline and how the culture of Japan played a role. Being in Hiroshima has helped form this understanding and I am so thankful I was able to come here.
Lindsey and I have been able to teach the English classes by ourselves three times now. Besides these English classes, working to straighten up the World Friendship Center’s library and create a database for the library has also helped me to gain such a good understanding of what happened here. Its hard not to want to take every book off the shelf and sit on the floor near the bookshelf and just read for hours. I joke that I am creating my own little library near my bed in our Japanese-style room.
I feel I have already learned so much in just four weeks. It is amazing that I am allowed to stay here for three more weeks. I could leave tomorrow satisfied with everything I have done and seen. However, I couldn’t miss going to karaoke with the previous mayor Hiroshima…That is going to be such an amazing experience. 🙂