Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our Friends in Japan

When a disaster hits, our thoughts and hearts go to those we know who may be touched directly. At Generations United, our thoughts went to our friends and colleagues who have join us over the years at our international conference. In 2005 we hosted a terrific delegation from Japan at our international conference who shared remarkable stories about their intergenerational work in various regions of the country. They impressed us with traditional dress at our awards dinner and their spirit. The next year I was invited, along with several other USA and international collaborators, by Drs Atsuko Kusano and Matt Kaplan to Japan to speak at the first conference held by the newly formed Japan Intergenerational Unity Network. We still have the beautiful paper lantern that has the JIUN and Generations United logos painted on the side that Dr. Mitsumune Tago gave us hanging in our lobby.

After thinking about them for days, today I heard back from Dr. Atsuko Kusano and then received word about our former staff member, Sachiko “Sachi” Taira, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Not to deny the situation is still unfolding, but grateful they, their families and many of the others we have met are okay.
While news has included coverage of older adults being cast aside during the terror that unfolded, there are also stories about those who helped others in need. As the days go on what we know from other horrific events is that younger will look to older for reassurance that recovery is possible. The longer perspectives that can help bring calm. Sachi’s words of wisdom reminded me of that.

“I am confident we Japanese are strong. Everybody has a SAMURAI spirit. I always think Japanese body is smaller than the other people. But our heart is very strong and big so that we can bear with anything. We can't tell how long it will take, but I am confident we can recover.”

Know that all of us at Generations United are rooting for you. We believe as the generations pull together, you will recover too.

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