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.
The Consulate General of Japan and Consul-General Ono recently hosted the 2012 National Day Reception. Rocky Mountain JET Alumni Association Executive Officers and Board Members were among the invitees along with other Japanese Community members, business leaders and government officials (including Denver Mayor, Michael Hancock).
Every year, the State of Colorado issues a Proclamation to the Consulate General of Japan in Denver on the occasion of the National Day Reception. This year, marked as “The year of opportunity for enhanced relations, friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and the State of Colorado”, acknowledged the success of the JET Program and the many participants sent from Colorado as a key component which continues to strengthen ties between Colorado and Japan.
The number of JETs sent from the Rocky Mountain region remains strong as does the quality of JETs we send as participants. Additionally, many of our JET alums in this region remain involved in supporting and strengthening US-Japan relations in a variety of fields locally, nationally and internationally. This recognition from the State of Colorado is indeed significant to RMJETAA and to the JET Program as a whole. Omedetou to you for being part of this community!
Denver JETs in Shimane-ken, Leonard Large, Kyle Opitz and Lauren Hale, along with other JETs from Shimane, Hiroshima, Tottori and local residents of Japan took part in a Charity Hike up Shimane’s Mount Sanbe to benefit the Japanese Red Cross and other charities supporting those affected by the Tohoku Disaster.
Lauren Hale, a Shimane JET from Denver said Japan has been such a great home to us all and we were so glad that we could be a part of the relief effort. We raised over twice the amount that we had originally hoped for!
On May 15th over 60 ALTs and CIRs and 50 Japanese people took part in a sponsored Charity Hike. The hike took place on Shimanes highest mountain: Mt. Sanbe in Oda City, Shimane. It was attended by people from 14 countries: America, Ireland, France, England, Jamaica, Canada, Scotland, Kenya, China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In the weeks leading up the event particpants raised $21,023 USD (¥1,715,338) from local and international donations (via the internet). At the summit of Mt. Sanbe, the participants held a photo opportunity and called out a strong message of support for the people of Tohoku and Japan from the international community. Please see the photograph below. In the week after the event, the money was transferred to the Japanese Red Cross (70%) and SMILE and Dreams; Tohoku Kids Project (30%).
We all looked on as the disastrous events of March 11th unfolded in the Tohoku region of Japan, and collectively our hearts sank. For those of us who have family and friends in Japan, it was a time of great sorrow and worry. But, in the aftermath of great tragedy can and has come great good. Little time has passed since the earthquake and tsunami shook the Tohoku region, but the world has responded with overwhelming support for the people of Japan. RMJETAA, being a member organization comprised of professionals who lived and worked in Japan, will be joining in the effort to help those people and towns most affected by this disaster. As the dust settles, there will be many opportunities for you to offer your support to organizations sending relief to Japan, and I would like to personally invite you to join with us in these efforts. JETAA is currently collecting donations on a national level, and if you would like to be a part of the JET Alumni response to the earthquake and tsunami, please go to the following website for details on how you can donate:
Also, RMJETAA is planning to hold a benefit event that highlights the music of Japan in late April or early May. The proceeds of this event will go directly to the relief effort. There are many other local and national ongoing efforts happening, so please give your full support to Japan in this time of great need. Thank you, and may Japan and its people have a speedy recovery!
As of COB on March 14th after many hours of emailing and calling parents, all in-country JETs who either processed or departed through Denver have been accounted for. We had several people in the Tohoku region, some of whom have been displaced due to the current situation, but they are all doing OK.
If you are looking for an in-country JET, CLAIR NY has a list of US and Canadian JETs who have thus far been accounted for. The list continues to grow, so please keep checking back if you don’t see the name of the person you’re looking for.
Other online resources that have come into play with connecting people are Facebook and Twitter. There are several Facebook pages set up to connect people- some general and some broken down by prefecture.