Friend­ship pre­vails in tough time

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - Emily Mac­don­ald emily. mac­don­ald@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

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

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