Early Morning Reflection: My day started at 2:30 in the morning. I have not been able to sleep past 2:30 yet. I left a wake-up call. Since I did not answer, they sent a bellboy to wake me up. I cannot believe how attentive the hotel is to our needs. Well, my lack of sleep must be jet lag. I felt a little bit weird not making plans for our two free days, but I will meet Mark, Brian, and Fumitaka's family. I want to keep my schedule free. The other teachers plans sound exciting, expensive, and time consuming. I will see Tokyo first! I wonder how Mark and Brian are doing. I can hardly wait to see them and hear about their experience with Fumitaka.
At 4:00 a.m. I went dowstairs and joined a group going to the fish market. We took a taki. The takis were also an experience in Japan. They are very clean. The taxi drivers wear gloves and the doors opened automatically. They drive on the right side of the street. My fear going so early was finding a taxi to come back on time. Everything had been so on schedule that I did not want to be late for anything. The fish market was interesting, but I did not get to see an auction. It was huge and compared to other fish markets, spotless, and almost silent. It was not as exciting as the Seattle fish market or I was just too tired to have a more positive view. I wonder how much money exchanges hands by 6:00 a.m. at this market on a daily basis. As we were leaving the fish market a taxi appeared and took us back to the hotel without any problems, but charged us more due to traffic. The teachers I went with were nice. I only remeber John, a native American who was going to spend his days in an area near Tokyo. I remember thinking how lucky he was. I like big cities and my assignment was a small rural town.
The schedule of the day was:
9:00-9:30: Presentation of books: byKenji Miyazasa
9:45:10:45: Host CityOrientation
11:00-12:30: Japan's Economy: Takahiro Miyao, Profesor, International University of Japan
12:30-2:00 Buffet Lunch
2:00-3:30: Japanese Government: Yuji Tsushima, Diet Member, Kuniko Inoguchi, Minister of the State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs. Moderator: Hiroya Ichikawa, Professor, Faculty of Comparative Culture, Sophia University
3:45-5:15: Japanese Education: Tsutomu Kimura, President, National Institution for Academic Degrees
6:30-8:30: Welcome Reception
As I said before, I joined tours in progress. I do not feel well. I am tired and I do not feel like socializing very much. I think I do not socialize because I know I cannot plan anything with them since I will be with my own family during the free days. Despite my lack of energy, I managed to be at the right place, at the right time and I joined the tour to the fish market without much planning. The group I joined was very nice.
Breakfast was amazing. I loved that rice was served at every meal. I loved their breakfast salads and the potatoe sandwiches. Every day they assigned sitting with a different criteria to insure us meeting as many of the 200 educators as possible.
We received free books. I decided to give the book of poetry to Mr. Britton. A teacher was reading it and she said it was difficult. Charlie could tell me what he thought of it and use it with his students. The other books will go to the Lower Division. I will present them to Susan Bruce because her kids are writing a grant for books. I will also give one book to the Stanley Club because Stanley came with me. After the publishing company made the book presentations, we were asked to sign-up for a Pen Pal Program. One of us will win the opportunity to write to 17 students from Nara. Their English teacher had requested this from the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund. If I win, I will have to create a service-learning project for this Pen Pal Project.
Host City Orientation: I do not why I was a few minutes late. To make-up for my tardiness, I quickly volunteered to gathered gifts from my group for all the institutions we were visiting. I was surprised by only a few had brought gifts for the schools we were going to visit. I have books about US cities, schools, pens, caps, and candy. If I were to do it all over again, I would prepare a service-learning quilt for each school. I know Caitlin's DVD is a very special gift. I wish I had brought a copy for each school.
Information provided on Yanagawa: 76,000 people, beautiful canals and boats. It is a tourist area, mainly tourism from Korea and China. We would stay at a Japanese style hotel (New Hakury Soh), in a single room. We will eat eel and nori and drink sake, the main products of the region. Yanagawa is the Venice of Japan and a samurai area.
Preparations for our flight to Fukuoka and bus trip to Yanagawa: We were to colored tag our luggage the day before and place it outside our room. We were to take a change of clothing on our handbags. I felt I was taking a cruise to Yanagawa.
Dress code and other details for the Yanagawa trip: We were also told about the required dress code for every day. Our official translator, Mikey, would join us at Fukuoka. We were expecting weather in the 60's and there were no hair dryers in the hotel. The hotel would make two available if needed. We also needed to exchange money at the hotel in Tokyo because there was no foreign currency exchange in Yanagawa. I had already exchange most of the money I wished to spend at the San Francisco Airport, therefore, I was not concerned about it. They also said big stores took credit cards. We were told that NO ENGLISH would be the rule in Yanagawa. I was afraid and excited. From Yanagawa I will not be able to blog because the hotel does not have Internet access.
Economics Lecture: Takahiro Miyao, Professor, International University of Japan, Head, GLOCOM Platform (www.glocom.org): This lecture was amazing. The professor, skillfully and clearily, compared the US and Japan economies. He said that comparing and contrasting them gives a better mutual understanding between the two countries.
The gross domestic product=national income of the USA population is 36,000 compared to the Japanese $ 27,000.
The difference in the saving behavior is USA: National: 15%, household:0%. Japan: National: 25%, Household: 10%. A household in the USA has: cash/ deposits of 15% , Stocks/M. Funds: 45%.
The Japanese household: Cash/Deposits: 60% and Stocks/M. Funds: 10%.
He explained the difference in the following way: 1: Culture, 2: Experience.
US Culture: Consumption=American Dream, Risk=Challenge to take.
Japan's Culture: Concumption=Indulgence, Risk=Gamble to avoid.
Richest People: The biggest surprise to me came when he described the richest generations: USA: Baby Boomers (40-59), post WWII Generation, Consume and Invest in stocks. He was talking about me.
Japan: Elderly (65 and older), Pre WWII Generation, save and hold cash/deposits.
Japan: Too much savings, too little consumption. More exports than imports (Trade surplus $132 billion in 2003).
JAPAN: Consume more and save less. Take risks and meet challenges. Improve non-manufacturing sectors.
If this area is of interest, there is a forum: www.glocom.org. Thank you Mr. Miyao. It was an easy presentation to follow.
Two members of the Diet talked to us after lunch. It was interesting to see how respectful the staff was and how they made us behave.
What is the Diet? Defined by the Constitution of Japan as the highest organ of state power and the sole law-making organ of the state.
The day ended with an official welcome reception. Happy Turkey Day to everyone!!!!! The food and drink selection were amazing. Another day in which the Japanese government is treating us like VIP's . An annoucement was made at the reception: Carmen Clay, your family is waiting for you outside! That is how I found out that Mark and Brian had arrived to the Tokyo Prince Hotel.
Three amazing presentations. I felt less tired and I was able to take good notes. The handouts are priceless.
The economics and Diet presentations made me questioned: what would my present situation in life be had I followed my dream as a teenager: Be in the diplomatic service with background in law and economics. Both presentations were fascinating.
Mrs. Inoguchi is a poster child for what Mr. Kimura described as the solution for Japanese educational problems now: She was creative, diverse in her thinking, and displayed zest for living. I was so proud to hear that she was an AFS student. She has inspired me to work harder, learn more, and strive to make a difference.
I understand Mrs. Inoguchi "making a difference", but I am not sure how Mr. Kimura will educate for change: providing "zest for living", creativity, diversity, flexibility and safeguard their traditional values, moral side and commitment to academics; in a society that is as rigid as this one seems to be . When I reflect on Mr. Kimura's solutions for the challenges of Japanese education, his solutions seemed to be a description of "Service-Learning" with broad based integration and the power of funding backing their attempts for change. I will see what the reality is at Yanagawa schools.
Last thought for the day: I did not know that Toyota is the richest company in Japan and the best students in the world in Math and Science are from Singapure, Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan. USA came as # 19 in the internatinal competition in Math and Science.
The speeches, the food and drinks at the Thankgiving Reception were very nice. Mark and Brian went to eat and came back to my room. They had a wonderful time with Fumitaka. I was so tired after a full day of workshops that we did not do anything else. We had a few hours of sharing experiences and they went back to their hotel. We will eat dinnner together tomorrow.