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Photo of Japanese temple with the text "Making Connections across the Globe"

Making Connections Across the Globe #JUSFC

June 20, 2018

Traveling to Japan was a dream come true, and after recovering from jet-lag these past couple of days, I’ve been thinking that if I was given the opportunity to go back, I would go in a heartbeat! Our pre-trip meetings with the group of students that were heading to Japan had me anxious. I knew we were going to be spending two weeks together and it seemed like there was a shy disconnect between us all. Once entering into the airport, that was not the case. We melded into great representatives of Moravian College while abroad in Japan.

group photo of Moravian and Japanese students at dinner

For me, I thought the most reflective part of the trip has everything to do with people. Whether it’s the students I was living with, the professors that were guiding us along this trip and especially the different people whom we met on this trip, the people we met and interacted with on this adventure really challenged my ideas and understandings about what I really think peace is.

author David taking a selfie with a Japanese student

During the two weeks that we were in Japan, we had the opportunity to interact with students from two different universities. We first met and stayed with the students from the Osaka Ohtani University. Our sister college really treated us like family and the generosity was something I was not prepared to experience. This was the first time that I was meeting these students, yet we were all interacting like we had known each other for years. During one of the nights with the help of our new friends, we were given the opportunity to cook up some local Japanese delicacies. Specifically, we made takoyaki, (octopus balls) and yaki soba, (a stir-fry noodle dish). While I didn’t fall in love with the takoyaki, I really enjoyed the yaki soba. This experience only enhanced my travel to Japan; not only was I enjoying the local food, this trip took it to the next level and taught me how to prepare it myself. I can use this knowledge to prepare some yaki soba for those that I love at home and share some of the experiences I had in Japan with them.

Moravian students learn how to cook traditional Japanese cuisine

We also spent some time with the students from Nagasaki University and once again the interactions between the students from both countries were limitless. Everyone got along really well, and conversations were loud with excitement and laughter. It gave all of us students a different perspective on how we all spend our lives day to day. It was a welcoming feeling while visiting a foreign country.

Moravian students and Japanese students get to know one another

The people who had impacted us the most while on this trip in my opinion were the hibakusha. These are the people who survived the atomic blasts in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The stories that were told to us were powerful, raw narrations of what happened in the month of August 1945. Listening to their stories really got me to think about the life that these people are now living. They continually rehash the day of the bombings to teach others about what had happened, and the effects following the dropping of the atomic bombs. It is these stories that empowered me to realize that we need to keep the word alive about the destruction of the bombs and not allow the memory to be forgotten.

Dr. Denton-Borhaug shaking hands with an atomic bombing survivor

The bombings were a terrible thing to have happened to the Japanese people, yet their spirit and generosity is overflowing with warmth and kindness. The fact that as a nation they want to move on and move forward to work towards peace after experiencing the destruction done to them, is the strength that I will take to help move myself forward with my life.  I know that not everything will go my way, but I will do everything I can to move past the hurdles of my life and achieve my goals. I am so grateful that I took advantage of the opportunity to head to Japan to better myself overall. I also believe that everyone who has a chance to experience Japan and visit these sites should do so -- it will only make you a stronger individual.

Click here to read all of the Japan blog posts!