Posts Tagged With: Japan

How I brought world and peace together

A few short weeks after arriving in Japan, my son met a girl in his homeroom class. It just so happened, this native Japanese girl spent a year or more in Knoxville, TN—our home town. In a strange turn of events, she was coming back to Knoxville in September for two weeks. In an even stranger turn of events, her host family was no longer available so I offered her a place to stay. Since we already have a girl from China living in our home for the school year, I figured the two girls would have a lot in common. After all, they’re both Asian, right?

“You do know, the Chinese and Japanese don’t really like each other,” my easygoing husband who had already accepted defeat when he allowed himself to be outnumbered by the females pointed out.

In my defense, I do not watch the world news–local news is discouraging enough—so I shrugged off his comment.

We picked Kanae up at the airport and shared a few very awkward hours getting to know each other. It reminded me a lot of the night we met Shunshun—our Chinese exchange student. Often quiet and feeling out of place, Shunshun suddenly embraced her role as a member of our family and POPPED out of her shell. She was no longer “new” and she took pride in the fact that she was not the shy, confused girl she once was.

Communicating with Kanae proved to be a challenge for all of us! Thankfully, she had an electronic translator, and I had Google. I learned to talk with my hands, read from an imaginary notepad she wrote on, and speak in broken English—a habit I’m still trying to break.  It was interesting and a little amusing to hear the Chinese teaching the Japanese how to speak English. What amazed me the most though, was how well the girls got along with each other, despite the language barrier. They shared an interest in music, movies, and of course, cute boys. However, there was a big difference in their cultures that I didn’t realize existed, and I felt guilty for assuming the two girls would be the same because they were both Asians.

My photo bomb!
Savannah, Shelby, Kanae, Shunshun

Kanae and Shunshun










In a late-night conversation with Kanae (Japan), I learned more about why the two countries don’t really like each other right now. I haven’t been living under a rock so I knew there was a dispute. Apparently, they are fighting over the islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Kanae informed me that Chinese restaurants in Japan are empty and Japanese buildings in China are being destroyed as tensions are high.

Kanae:  “But Shunshun is nice.”

Me:  “You seem surprised.”

Kanae:  “Yes. Japan and China,” she paused to pound her fists together. “But I like Shunshun.”

Me:  “I like Shunshun too, and I like you.”

Kanae:  “I like you and your family also.”

Me:  “We are many people sharing one world. We should all just get along.”

We smiled and squeezed our hands together. It didn’t matter what was going on in the news; we were having a moment. And that moment was all about bringing peace to a chaotic world.

Then I broke the silence.

Me:  “So who do the islands really belong to?”

Kanae:  “Japan.”

We both laughed.

A few days after Kanae went back to Japan, Shunshun and I were discussing the two-week visit. She said her mother found humor in the fact that we had Chinese, Japanese, and American together at the same time.

Shunshun: “China and Japan fight while America tries to make it better. Why does America do that?”

Me:  “We want the world to be at peace, so we do what we can to make it better.”

What I wanted to say: We are always sticking our noses in everybody’s business because we don’t want our economy to suck. What if the Middle East refused to share their oil or the Chinese raised the price of cheap labor?

Shunshun:  “You make it better. Kanae was very nice. I like her.”

Me:  “I like her too, and I like you.”

We both smiled and shared a peaceful moment until I broke the silence.

Me:  “So who do the islands really belong to?”

Shunshun:  “China, of course.”

We both laughed.

To be honest, you might be thankful I’m not a politician. And right about now you’re probably wondering why I titled this post: How I brought world and peace together.  

Surely, you can see the humor.


Categories: Life is an Adventure | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Never Say Never

Knoxville to LA

One of the pitfalls of having a writer for a mother is eventually, she will write a story about you. I try to avoid this but since there are a few lessons to be learned (and my son is on a long flight to Japan), I felt the need to share.

In preparing our son for a year-long stay in Japan, we went on a shopping spree, buying everything from socks and shoes to toothpaste and deodorant. When one of the two pairs of Chinos we bought him sprung a button, I pulled out the travel size sewing kit, complete with pre-threaded needles. My husband, a FedEx pilot and seasoned traveler, suggested I teach our son how to sew the button back onto his pants. I argued the need. After all, wouldn’t his Host Mother be able to sew a button if the occasion should arise?

My husband reminded me of a time or two when his uniform pants split straight up the back and he had to walk through the hotel lobby with his underwear hanging out. I guessed a little instruction couldn’t hurt. My son was more than willing to learn and he was surprised at how easy it was for me to tie a knot in the thread, weave the needle back and forth through the four little holes on the button, then tie off the thread again—simple.

While waiting 8 hours for his departure flight at LAX, my son’s second pair of Chinos sprung a button. In a disappointing turn of events, the travel size sewing kit didn’t make it into his carry-on bag. We encouraged him to find a store, buy a kit, and then find a bathroom stall. Imagine my surprise when he called from the bathroom stall and asked me how to thread the needle. When I told him he had to stick the thread through the tiny hole at the top of the needle, he said he figured that out but was hoping I knew an easier way. I didn’t.  I’m not sure if the new button was too small or the task was too tedious, but three safety pins are holding his pants up now.

Lesson #1   Last minute packing is not a good idea.

Lesson #2   When your pants are being held up by safety pins and you’re on a 12 hour flight, it is

best to limit your beverage consumption.

Lesson #3   Never say never.

Categories: Life is an Adventure | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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