It has been about five or six days since I’ve returned from Japan, and I’ve been playing it back in my mind ever since. Overall, the trip was probably one of the best, if not the best experience I’ve had while in college. Something about going to a new place on the other side of the world without any help from my parents was liberating. I felt like a real adult for the first time in my life.
The best part of the trip for me was meeting new people. However, prior to going on the trip I was a bit nervous because I really did not know anyone else. But when I arrived at JFK with my mother on the 15th, something clicked in my head. I just decided to put myself out there and whatever happens, happens. Everything really rolled from there. I met many new people from a diverse set of backgrounds, that I probably would never have met without going on the trip. I became very close with Andrew, Emmy, and Jillian, and we keep in touch. We had several heart-to-heart discussions and I really got to know them, not just as classmates, but as friends.
I was even able to make several friends that were from Japan. I exchanged contact information with several students from both Osaka Ohtani, and University of Nagasaki, and we keep in touch. Shinji and I still have some discussions about nuclear weapons, and Kohei and I still talk about baseball. Meeting new people from around the world was an eye-opening moment in my life. I found that many of the Japanese students are very like me, and the major difference was just that they spoke Japanese, and I spoke English. I very well could see them being kids that I would like to hang out with on a Friday night in the States.
The most important part of the trip for me was seeing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Atomic Bomb Museum in Hiroshima, and the peace park, was an extremely powerful experience. In my opinion, all people should visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
All people should know of the destructive capabilities of the weapons that are present in today’s world, and they should know of the real-world effects they can have.
Meeting with Hibakushas (survivors of the atomic bombings) was a truly awesome way for me to realize that all the events and testimonies that I heard in the museums happened to real people. Hearing Mrs. Okada’s recollection of the events as an atomic bomb survivor were truly heart-breaking, and eye-opening. When you hear about the events and hundreds of thousands of people perishing in a near-instant it is easy to dehumanize the amount of lost life to make sense of it. But listening to Okada’s presentation really brought the human aspect back into the equation. These bombings happened to real people, real families, and real businesses. To be honest, I still cannot comprehend the fact that hundreds of thousands of people died from these bombings, but what I do understand is that the people who died were no different than you, or me.