Published: July 12th 2009July 12th 2009
Fair trade store 1
Tiny hole in the wall
Going away parties are going to become pretty commonplace this next week, my last week at Japan, but I don't think that any of them will be as touching as the one with my circle and my best friends in this country.
We met up for a larger Fair trade event in Tokyo, pretty big and participation was country-wide. Schools came from as far as Shikoku (not the main island of Japan) which was impressive. I would say around 70 people participated and 12 were from the Waseda circle. We have been getting big, really big, in the fair trade movement and most schools knew of us. Much of it is thanks to Joseph and the other leaders in the group that really stepped things up this year. There are incredible things planned in the realm of pressuring the cafes on campus to wake up and serve the coffee, large media campaigns, grassroots fair trade chocolate label design contests, etc. The last part of the event was a gathering in Yoyogi park which was absolutely beautiful. In front of everyone, Joseph stepped up and said we are planning a massive campaign to print and distribute 15,000 pamphlets containing information about
This store is the hub of FT in Tokyo
fair trade and fair trade groups, events, companies, etc and that if anyone wanted to list something, to contact him. It was met with huge applause. This group is wonderful. I felt that I was really seeing and hearing the beginning of the spread and popularity of the FT movement in Japan. It is already popular in America, it was made popular by hardworking and dedicated students like my friends in Cafaire. They will do the work in Japan to further this worthy cause.
I, again, was the only foreigner in the event and participated fully and flawlessly. I registered on my own, chatted about life, fair trade, school, with the group I was in for the Fair Trade hunt around Shibuya and Harujuku (the main part of the event), and did it all without one person from my Waseda group. (We were split so each "team" had members from different schools.) It was just like, ok, here is the language we are using, now speak. So what if it wasn't English. I didn't need it. Skipping ahead a bit, at the going away party later on I was having such a good time in Japanese, and had enough
alcohol in me that I couldn't reach back correctly and speak English. Someone had asked me to imitate a southern accent and for some reason I was stuck in the Japanese grammar structure. Crazy. First time it happened and its fitting that it was with my Circle. Wouldn't have wanted it to happen anywhere else.
So on to the party. We walked from the FT gathering to a sweet place in Omotesando. Flower shop by day, bar by night. It was tiny and there were 28 of us so we had the place to ourselves. There were no tears, honestly, but I think everyone was emotional, happy emotional. Atmosphere was a release of a lot of hard work. I worked hard to get in the club and stay there, make friends, and participate like everyone else. Everyone works their asses off during the activities and meetings. We all worked to overcome language barriers, feelings of strangeness, and in these last 2 months, became one happy Japanese+1 family. I gave a little talk thanking everyone, gave a bag of American FT coffee and an open invitation to NYC. I received a limited edition fair trade chocolate bar and a signed
Gathered at the end
70 people from all over Tokyo
Frisbee by all the members. Throughout the course of the night we moved throughout the room, reminiscing, wishing each other well, making plans for the next time one of us crosses the pacific. After that, we moved to Roppongi hills for a beautiful night view of Tokyo, which was my wish for the going away party when asked. I said, dinner, and a night view of Tokyo with everyone. I got some wonderful pics of the entire group and me with my Japanese friends. As I am reflecting now, I am getting a little choked up because this was my arena where I was accepted like everyone else. The strange looks, nervous laughter, surprise at interacting with the goofy, only American had completely dissipated on their part, and the nervousness and frustration in interacting, or rather, not interacting in a foreign language had dissipated for me. This group became my heart and core in Japan, perhaps even more so than the host family and it was through them that I was able to feel worthy and validated in Japan and my Japanese. They cared for me, I cared for them. I hope that I was able to help the group
a fraction of what they did for me. This night, my going away party, was hands down, the greatest time I have ever had going out in not only Japan but America too. Returning to your home country is bittersweet. I want to get back to my American life. I miss it. But separating from this group, is one of the bitter parts of the way back home.
There are more photos below