March 22, 2013
The Consulate General of Japan in Denver and the Japan America Society of Colorado jointly hosted a Kizuna (Friendship) Reception to show appreciation to the people of Colorado for their support in the wake of the 3.11 Tohoku Disaster. In addition to this show of thanks, the Kizuna Reception was also a celebration of the various student exchange groups coming and going between Japan and Colorado.Along with speeches from Consul-General Ono, Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman and military personnel who were intimately involved with Operation Tomodachi, RMJETAA was also invited to share a moment of silence with the audience in honor of Taylor Anderson, Monty Dickson, their Japanese communities and all whose lives were lost in those tragic events. The speeches shared with the audience were personal, heartwarming and shared the essence of what it means to be supportive between nations on a political and military level and also on a personal level.
There were about 200 people in attendance including students from Littleton High School who had just recently returned from a trip to Japan where they visited the disaster- affected areas. Exchange students from Sendai were also present as they made their stop at Littleton High School during their trip to the US. Additionally, the Montbello High School Drum Line, who is headed off to Takayama, Gifu-ken (Denver’s Sister City) later this month in celebration of the inaugural non-stop flight between Denver and Tokyo, got their first interactions with some Japanese students as they mixed and mingled with the Sendai students. (RMJETAA will be leading the orientations for this fantastic group of Montbello students as they prepare for their adventure to Japan.)
As the evening continued, the focus centered on cultural exchange. The Littleton High School students performed a New Orleans jazz musical piece; the students from Sendai sang Country Roads by John Denver a capella (a very apropos choice!) which the audience joined them for; the Montbello Drum Line broke out their drums and made some noise; RMJETAA brought the Sendai students up to the stage area and led the audience in a performance of Rajio Taiso. The Consul-General joined in the exercises. It was truly a sight to see the giggling smiles of the entire audience as they performed each move and realized this was truly a physical cultural exchange that they were participating in. Some things just don’t require words.
JETAA USA has been and remains supportive of Japan in the wake of the Tohoku disaster. The organization raised funds and gifted them to some very unique programs in Japan which promoted and supported educational activities for Japanese students affected by the disaster. JETAA USA remains committed to acting as a bridge between Japan and the US. Its nation-wide chapters continue to function in the spirit of the JET Program, promoting cross cultural exchange on a grass-roots level.