Friendship prevails in tough time
IT’S been a case of another day, another disaster lately with Japan the most recent country to have terrible tragedy inflicted upon it this year.
Like many Australians, my family has friends in Japan who we have unfortunately lost contact with over the years.
Although their homes in Yamaguchi and Osaka Prefectures are mercifully far from where the tsunami hit, it is still very worrying.
It did not surprise me to hear the mayor of Iwaki was the first to send his condolences to sister city Townsville after Cyclone Yasi because I have found Japanese people to be consistently caring and genuine.
I studied the Japanese language throughout high school and when I was 14-years-old I went on a one month exchange trip to live with the Tsutsui family in Toyonaka.
My host parents made me feel at home immediately, insisting I call them okasan ( mother) and otosan ( father) and when my host sister Mayu came to my house in Tully she also took great delight in calling my parents Mum and Dad.
I have memories of riding a bike to school in Japan, getting dressed up for traditional green tea parties and picking cherry blossoms.
Obasan ( grandmother) couldn’t speak much English and my Japanese was limited but she liked to sit next to me and smile, watching on as I struggled with the chopsticks at dinner time because she had confiscated my knife and fork so I would have to learn. She cried when I left. We also had another exchange student Kanae Saga stay with our family around the same time and while I remained penpals with the girls for many years, eventually we lost touch.
I’ll be writing both families a letter this week to check if they’re okay.
If any good can come out of these terrible tragedies it is the global goodwill they have created.
There’s no denying some North Queenslanders still hold on to ugly, racist beliefs but I’ve heard nothing but condolences expressed in the wake of recent events. Let’s hope after the world has picked up the pieces the only lasting reminder will be the camaraderie formed in times of hardship. BIG SMILE: When Emily was a baby Don’t miss our Babies of 2010
coming out on March 23