familiar but foreign – language

Leave a comment

I am confident that I know two words in Japanese – arigatou (thank you) and konnichiwa (hello).  I actually know another two words that most of the time I forget I know which are hai (yes) and sayounara (good-bye). And if everyone else is saying it I can say oyasumi (good night). I can read no Japanese characters. Thankfully we have wonderful translators, we are rarely left to fend for ourselves, pointing is a good substitute for words, signs are usually in English and Japanese and  many people speak more English than I speak Japanese.

On the twelve-hour flight to Japan I watched Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot which was a good time filler movie. However it made me doubt if I was being translated properly. Let me explain. In the film, Tine Fey is a reporter in Afghanistan and people say something to her in Pahlawi, Farisi or Dari and in subtitles you see what they said. Tina Fey then says to her translator “what did he say?” and translator says something totally different and usually kind opposed to rude. There were moments on the trip that I was sure that the subtitles running at the bottom of the screen said something totally different from what I was told the translation was and  that made me chuckle more than once.

Being translated is an interesting experience, I find it makes me choose my words more carefully and I even seem to structure my sentences differently. I am always amazed that I can say ten words and the translation is two words or vise versa I say two words and the translation is ten. One thing for sure is not knowing the language makes me a better listener. It makes me more aware of body language and tone. I don’t know about you but on occasion I am formulating my response instead of being attentive to the speaker. Truly being present, connecting with and tuning into the person I am listening to is a skill that I want to be familiar with even if the language or circumstances are foreign.

Familiar but foreign

Leave a comment

IMG_3345

 

It was my third trip to Japan in four years. Japan is a place that feels familiar but foreign to me. This trip was similar but different. I visited some of the same destinations as I had in 2013 and 2014 but also some new ones. To me the main thing that had changed since 2014 was the sense of a new normal. There wasn’t as much uncertainty as to what the future holds. Rebuilding is underway, memorials have been established, possibilities of moving back are on the calendar, sharing of stories has begun. This trip was far more about being ears to listen than being a storyteller. It was far more about I am only a half step further down the road from my disaster after fifteen years than you are after your disaster five years ago. This trip was about resilience.

In future blog posts I will explain more of what I experienced and learned on yet another life changing trip to Japan.  Below is the information I received before the trip from our organizers. 

5th International Outreach Program for School Children and Community Survivors of

3/11 Great East Japan Disasters

Back Ground: Now more than five years after the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake, still 170,000 evacuees from disaster stricken areas with 99,000 evacuees from radiation contamination continue to suffer the consequences (3/4/2016 report by Reconstruction Agency). In particular, children’s emotional well being is concerning as they continue to be displaced away from their communities and show signs of emotional stress.

Goals: We wish to empower school communities with self-motivation toward recovery by showing concrete examples of resilience and people overcoming disasters.

Sadako’s Soaring Crane: Together with American Airlines, we brought an origami crane monument fabricated out of steel recovered from 9/11 on our 1st mission in 2012. This symbol for recovery from the international community dedicated for children’s comfort was inspired by Sadako Sasaki, who died at age 12 from radiation exposure after the bombing of Hiroshima. Sadako’s origami cranes was previously donated to the 9/11 Tribute Center and we made a symbolic return of Sadako’s wish for peace and comfort for children. KyodoNews

Children’s Storybook: We have published a children’s storybook of late 12-year-old girl’s story about strength and courage to move forward and how Sadako’s Soaring Crane monument came to Fukushima. This storybook is touted as a “book of life” and “Hiroshima–NY–Fukushima connected with hope.” We have donated more than 10,000 copies of storybooks to school children in Fukushima. The story will continue to touch the kids around the world.

Impact of Survivor Exchange Program: We continue to gauge the impact of post-3/11 outreach efforts on both the 3/11 “recipient” community and the 9/11 “donor” community. The success of this outreach program may be partially attributable to the fact that it meets the basic objectives of psychological first aid to “establish human connection in a non intrusive, compassionate manner”; “support positive coping and empower survivors to take an active role in recovery”; and “facilitate continuity and ensure other sources of support when leaving.”

Japan 2016

Leave a comment

244Back at the end of May just days before the email appeared in my inbox, my daughter randomly asked “is the Tribute Center doing a trip to Japan this year?” I replied “They are but I am not sure who is going?” And then on June 5  the email appeared “would you like to be part of the fifth trip to Japan?” Wow! I can’t believe I am invited to be part of this amazing team again. When I was invited the first time in 2013, my daughters’  said “Mom, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Go for it. ” A year later when I was invited again, my daughters’ commented “wow, most people don’t get their once in a lifetime trip twice!” This time when I mentioned I was invited they commented something along the lines of “so what dates are you going to Japan again?”

The my third trip is now over and I will be posting about that. In the meantime if you would like to catch up on the past trips, here are the links to some of those posts.

Travel Tuesdays – S1E16 Japan

https://missannsays.com/2013/08/20/travel-tuesdays-s1e18-japan-lost-in-translation/

https://missannsays.com/2013/08/27/travel-tuesday-s1e19-japan-phds-mds/

https://missannsays.com/2014/08/30/japan-2014-part-1/

https://missannsays.com/2014/09/03/japan-2014-part-4/

 

little stones

Leave a comment

M_JLWTC-333x258

Many times as I share my personal story while leading walking tours of the National September 11 Memorial, I make the following statement:

“Before I started volunteering with the Tribute Center, I only had my story and that was quite enough. But now I know the stories of downtown residents, survivors, other family members, volunteers and first responders. To me the story of September 11 is like a mosaic, it is hundreds if not thousands of stories that lay next to each other they don’t necessarily interlock like a puzzle to tell the story of that day and years since. We need all of those stories to understand what happened. We need your stories as well.”

Yesterday I read the May 3 entry in Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey. It really spoke to me and I wanted to share it with you.

“A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself. That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say, “I make God visible.” But others who see us together can say, “They make God visible.” Community is where humility and glory touch.”

The italics are mine. I want to admire the beauty of each stone but I also want to step back and see the whole beautiful picture. How about you?

mosaic

March Moments

Leave a comment

When I owned my studio March was a slow month. The majority of the prep work for the recital was done before March – music chosen, students measured, costumes ordered, monies collected and choreography started. March was the month I got to concentrate on just one thing, teaching dance. I have been retired almost five years now and you would think my “March” would be even slower than it had been when I worked but alas this March has been a whirlwind.

March 1- 5 – I was in Brussels where I spoke at the EPP hearing at the European Parliament on victims of terrorism. https://missannsays.com/2016/02/12/remedial-class/   I also ventured out to explore with a bus trip to Ghent and Bruges. Speaking at the EP was a first and this was also the first time I traveled alone in a country other than England. I did enroll in the US State Department STEP program https://step.state.gov/step/ which means the American Embassy in Belgium knew I was “in country” and where to find me. In today’s world I would suggest enrolling. I also dressed as a professional woman not a person on vacation. Even though I was in Brussels I used my New York City walk – woman on a mission not wandering. Don’t mess with me.

March 7 – I lead two tours at the 9/11 Tribute Center.

March 8 – I was a panel member at Asia Society 3-11 and 9-11 survivor stories. It was a wonderful reunion with those I had traveled to Japan with in 2013 and 2014. The panel discussion was followed by a delicious dinner attended not only by myself and my Tribute Center family but by Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations. http://asiasociety.org/new-york/events/3-11-and-9-11-survivor-stories.

March 9 – taught two classes, had my taxes done and led Children’s Bible quizzing at church.

March 10 – 14 – flew to FL to visit good friends. I enjoyed relaxing days, yummy food, great conversation and many laughs. We realized in our time together we have known each other over 40 years which makes me feel old and extremely blessed.

March 16 – taught one class, had my hair done and led Children’s Bible quizzing at church.

March 17 – 22 – Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in CA. I met some talented writers, gracious agents and encouraging editors. The key-note speaker was Carol Kent. If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak you will be challenged and encouraged by her words. Once I am home I have much writing to accomplish. Exciting. Scary. Taunting. Good stuff.

Terrorist attacks in Brussels bring tears to my eyes, sorrow to my heart and prayers to my lips.

March 22 – 27 – visiting with my daughter and son-in-law in Seattle. Emily and I have done some touristy things. I would highly recommend the Boeing factory tour and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation visitor center. The cherry blossoms at University of Washington were in bloom and we had a delightful walk around Emily’s alma mater.  Also saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 which was a fun movie. As we walked to the car after the movie, Emily said she really wanted baklava so a trip to the grocery store was in order.🙂

The old adage is “March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.” March 2016 for me has been an adventure that will take some time to process. I am truly a blessed.

Twenty one days ago

1 Comment

Today as I checked in at San Jose airport for my flight to Seattle the Alaska Airline employee commented that the computers were slow. “I haven’t heard any details about the attacks in Brussels. They told us there were attacks so the computers are slow  but what do you know?” I shared the information I knew – one bomber at the airport and one bomb at the subway station in the EU section of the city, 31 dead and many injured. I also mentioned that exactly twenty-one days ago I was in Brussels. I walked through that airport and walked those streets by that subway station.

Twenty-one days ago tomorrow at a hearing on terrorism sponsored  by the EPP and held at the European Parliament in Brussels, I shared my 9/11 story. I explained how the support of my faith community, my daughters’ school community, my little hometown as well as the FDNY, New York, American federal government and intentional acts of kindness from strangers worldwide made a difference in my life.  I mentioned that the FDNY has protocols and procedures in place to deal with line of duty deaths. And that even with “a plan” there were hiccups due 343 line of duty deaths in one day.  I ended by saying “The best thing that could happen is you (EP) develop a plan that is never used because there isn’t another terrorist attack in Europe. Unfortunately that probably won’t be the case. My prayer is you develop a plan that is never used.”

😥

  

Remedial class

3 Comments

I have often commented to friends that I am pretty sure I am in the remedial class when it comes to learning life lessons. Seriously if there is such a class I am in it. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is just the way it is. For example, last year in Children’s Bible Quizzing we studied the book of Exodus. The story of Moses with the burning bush is one of my favorites. Moses out in the wilderness doing his job of tending sheep and God shows up. Take your sandals off. Holy ground. “I AM WHO I AM” All great stuff.

What stuck with me last year was Moses asking “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God responding “I will be with you…” I loved that response. God didn’t say “Moses, you were the Hebrew baby in the basket, you were the young man in Pharaoh’s court, you are a murder, the shepherd.” He says “I will be with you.” This was an aha moment for me. Really that is what it is all about God is with us. Immanuel means God with us. I mentioned it to friends. In conversation with my pastor, he commented that Moses actually asked the wrong question. Moses should have asked “who was God?”  Yeah, right. That is worth pondering, too. The main thing still goes back to God saying “I will go with you.” I was passionate about this. I pondered it  I excitedly  shared this new understanding when I spoke at Le Tourneau and College of the Ozarks. Good stuff.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I have been invited to share my September 11 at a hearing on terrorism. Did I mention the hearing is in Brussels, Belgium at the European Parliament? An amazing opportunity but I am pretty sure they have the wrong person. No, a real invitation to speak arrives via email. Then a telephone call. All confirmed by September 11 Families Association. This is legit.  I am humbled by the opportunity but remember I am the ballet teacher. This is a “running with the big kids” event. I am a sit on the floor with kids person.

Yesterday I emailed some friends to ask them to pray for me as I embark on this amazing adventure and as I sat in my study I thought “who am I that I should speak at the European Parliament.” And then it clicked! I asked the wrong question but answer was still the same – “I will go with you.”

 

Image-1