Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Home, Family, Blessing

Home is where you treat your friends like family and your family like friends. Truly, when I was in Japan, I did feel at home. It was my third visit after attending the 18th Asia Pacific Youth Conference (APYC) in 2012 and being the School Visit Program (SVP) volunteer in 2013. This year’s visit was to do research with my lecturer on Applying Principles of Good Governance to Schools and to reconnect with IofC Japan friends.

We visited Keimei Gakuen, a school which was founded by Takasumi Mitsui in 1940, with the principles of MRA/IofC. I got to know one of the teachers, Mari Sekine sensei when I visited the school six years ago with the SVP team.  This research was the continuation after my first visit to Highlands International Boarding School (HIBS) Malaysia in July. Our research was conducted in some schools based in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and India.

I contacted some IofC Japan friends and managed to meet some of them. During my visit on August 15-20, I stayed at Hisano san’s house; this was also my first family homestay in 2013. Staying with a Japanese family not only enriches my experience but also helps me to understand their habits and culture. On August 18, my lecturer and I visited the IofC office in Tokyo. My heart melted when entering the office, because Keisuke Nakayama san, an IofC senior, said ‘Welcome home.’ We had a sharing session and recalled our memories during my visits there. I was also glad to introduce my lecturer with the IofC network.

On August 19, we finally visited Keimei Gakuen. An interview was held with Suzuki sensei, the vice principal and Mari Sekine sensei. Keimei Gakuen is committed to educating and instructing students to widen their global view, enrich their characters and develop independent perspectives needed in society today. Through Keimei’s global education curriculum, students become global citizens, capable of taking on and helping the world and learning about peace in an international context. We discussed education issues, including the rule of law, transparency, school rules, internal communication, and strategic vision.

Another story was when I visited Hisako san, who was in my family group during APYC in Japan and the person who recommended me to be part of the SVP.  I called her ‘okaasan’ which means ‘mother’. Before departing for Japan, I had tried to reach her by sending a message to her husband, Takahashi san. I didn’t know about the loss of her husband untiI was told by Keisuke Nakayama san on August 18. I thanked God that I managed to visit her. I’ve been thinking of her many times.

I believe we live as a global family and each of us plays a role to bring love, care, and fellowship no matter where we are. I felt blessed and thanked the IofC Japan family for their time, support, care, and generosity: Kiyoshi Nagano san, Keisuke Nakayama san, Sachiko Nakata san, Yoko san, Ryoko Kato san, Nakajima san, Hisako san, Hisano san and other members whom I couldn’t meet this time, you’re also in my heart. My gratitude to all of them is beyond words.

Yofrina Octika Gultom