Tonight (few days before posting this article) was the long-awaited Arigato Event in Omura! What a success! Nearly everything went smoothly, and my expectations to have an incredible evening were well-exceeded. I think everyone has been saying “I want to do it all over again!” The good news is that we will, in our next city!
I may be speaking for more than myself by stating that Arigato Event practices were long and often grueling. Jet-lagged and cranky, the idea of learning a long dance the first day did not thrill me; the veteran participants, however, assured me that once I saw how much the event would mean to my host family, it will have been completely worth it. Even so, I was skeptical—until tonight. The event allowed me to bond deeply with my family and fellow World Campus Japan participants through dancing, singing, acting goofy, and laughing (lots of laughing!!). Sharing cultural information was fun as well. I think my fact about the United States was unknown by all—that 75% of the world’s eggplant supply is grown in the United States! (Did you know that?)
Perhaps the mentioned activities are what made the night so special. Or perhaps it was the beautiful “Park Bells” facility and the delicious catering. It could have been the fantastic brass band that entertained us after our portion of the show was over. Then again, it might have been our excitement in the “green room” as Celi led us through “hoorah!”’s—infusing good luck and an intimate energy into our close-knit group of participants. Come to think of it, I realize that that the night was so special because all of these things occurred. New faces, many hugs, emotional “toasts,” and of course dancing the limbo filled the night with gratitude and happiness.
I left the event holding the hands of my two host siblings as we danced to our car, singing some of the ridiculous Japanese songs we performed during the show. Everyone was in a great mood, and it was a perfect ending to an amazing stay in Omura.
Go World Campus Japan!!
(Alexander Polk – The United States)