TOMODACHI: Friendship, Teamwork & Personal Growth

TOMODACHI: Friendship, Teamwork & Personal Growth

In Japanese, TOMODACHI means friendship.

Participating in the TOMODACHI Generation Initiative has allowed me the opportunity to redefine friendship and teamwork.

 

Friendship is...

 

 

...a bond strong enough to exist and flourish regardless of distance.

 

Japan has not been the same since the Triple Disaster's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear explosion initially struck on March 3, 2011. Specifically, the Tohoku Region of Japan suffered a great deal of catastrophic damage, much of which is still being resolved. In effort to Create Solutions to Social Problems that have been negatively impacting Tohoku since 3/11, I decided to apply to TWC's Civic Engagement Project, which worked with the TOMODACHI Initiative to do exactly that: create change.

 

Throughout the past two weeks I have been learning both with and from 11 American students and 16 Japanese students. Aided by a multitude of different speakers and Dr. Plotinsky, our minds were broadened and ultimately we were divided into four groups by our advisers, Jung, Jacob and Kyle. Despite only knowing each other for an hour, each group was expected to create a name to represent their group as an entirety. The group that I have had the honor of contributing to and representing titled ourselves, the Creators of Henkaku, which in Japanese means Change.

 

What happens when four Japanese students and three American students are in a room for 8 hours per day surrounded by guidelines, proposals, whiteboards, smartboards and computers? Organized Chaos. Just kidding; my group and I were able to truly create a program which will, if enacted, aid the mental recovery of the survivors from Tohoku by utilizing photojournalism and youth education. Although our group members' differences were not automatically easy to overcome, our similarities and overall goal of working to help others truly carried the TOMODACHI Generation Initiative to success.

 

While at a Ropes Course in Maryland our group of seven individuals dissipated.

 

 

By trusting in one and other, we became a union.

 

I have spent the past few years of my life developing my ability to lead in a professional setting, whether individually or within a group. Regardless, no leadership experience in my past prepared me to be held 12 feet in the air while I grasped for the first hand I could feel in order to climb over a wall. I now realize that it is easy for one to lead when both of their feet are planted firmly on the ground. But to lead from 12 feet in the air is an entirely different concept. I was able to trust the members of my group with my physical safety more easily than I was able to open up to these six people about my ideals and my uncertainties. Despite the roller coaster that the seven of us ended up on, I know in my heart that we truly went after that perfect score, or in this case: 14.

 

Teamwork feels like...

 

 

...together, anything is possible.

 

The point of this entire program was to create TOMODACHI; friendship. Although our group, the Creators of Henkaku did not win, I do not feel like we lost. We won more than a prize, and something much better than a firm handshake or a plastic trophy. I now have a bond with six individuals that I would do anything for, regardless of where or when. I have not only made bonds with the 27 people in this program; I have made 27 incredible friends from all over the world. Our bonds are strong enough to exist and flourish regardless of the distance and together, anything is possible.

 

My six teammates: Ai, Ben, Brittany, Santo, Sumireko, and Takumi have truly opened my mind and more shockingly, opened my heart. This experience was far more than Civic Engagement, and there is no brochure that can accurately showcase how incredible this program has been. It has been an honor to represent the TOMODACHI Generation Initiative, and furthermore, the Creators of Henkaku. My once strictly logical mindset has been broadened to encompass the different aspects of ever-changing situations surrounding me. It only took 13 days for my mind to be opened in such a cross-cultural manner and I now challenge all of you to embark on a journey that will allow you to do the same. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. By stepping out of mine, I have grown as an individual both academically, personally and professionally.

 

On behalf of TWC, I would like to congratulate Courtney, Jose, Suzanne, Star, Thomas and William on their group's presentations. I look forward to hearing about your incredible adventures in Japan this upcoming August!

 

As a final thought:

 

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

You must do the things you think you cannot do."

-Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Until Next Time,

R.A.S.

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