Column by Jeremiah Jackson
I remember 5:15 a.m. on June 10, 2023, arriving at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport thinking my dream is now becoming my reality.
I felt overcome with emotion knowing what great adventures were waiting for me. People may say when going abroad, you undergo at least one moment that makes you look at life differently. This summer in Japan, thankfully, I had two moments.
After hearing about the Kake program at the University of Findlay through faculty, it peaked my interest because I’ve always wanted to go to Japan due to my passion for Japanese anime. Up until the trip I wasn’t sure if I was going to go because of the finances, but thankfully the Founders Award through UF helped fund the trip. Initially before going to Japan, I was so excited about the trip and the adventures to come. I can truly say this trip to Japan changed my outlook on life.
Before discussing my life changing moments, I want to talk about how different the Japan is from the U.S. The people, the safety, the food, stores, the language, everything was different; it was a dream becoming a reality.
The people were extremely nice and helpful; even though there were language barriers at times, I felt comfortable enough to go to a store by myself and order food without any problems. My Japanese isn’t good at all, but I was put in a lot of positions where I had no other choice learn and speak the language. I began to see improvement being immersed around the language, so I could hold conversations and communicate with the Japanese people.
Another thing I noticed was how humble, nice and little pride the people had in Japan. In today’s world, it seems people only help themselves, but in Japan they displayed how grateful they were for every moment with one another. They showed kindness to me, patience when I struggled speaking the language and went of their way to teach me the language, give gifts and demonstrate great hospitality. It didn’t feel real to me at first.
The safety in Japan was different since I had ability to have fun outdoors without having to worry about my safety. I could explore the surrounding areas in a foreign country without stressing about my safety, which made my trip more enjoyable.
But one thing I did worry about initially was the food. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I am allergic to shellfish, so I had to be cautious. I can say the food is fantastic in Japan. From the ramen with tonkatsu (pork cutlet) to the fruit, which is amazing! My time in Japan was amazing and I left Japan greatly appreciating and thanking the UF, Kake, (ALL PARTIES INVOLVED)
With the UF Kake group, we spent majority of our time in Okayama, Japan where we visited a couple universities. At these universities, I got to interact with students, talk with Sanyo Broadcasting and meet the mayor and governor. I even gave a speed to the governor of Okayama, Ryuta Ibaragi.
During our time in Okayama, we visited the Sosenji Temple twice where we had the opportunity to meditate and learn from monks. They told us how difficult meditation was and how people sometimes do not grasp meditation until after many times of repetition. And that’s how I felt after the first time, I was uncomfortable, moving around too much, couldn’t focus, but the monk explained how that was normal for a first timer. But the second time I approached meditation with a different mindset, it altered my mentality.
My experience at the Sosenji temple was a life-changing one. Meditating, staring off into nature, was one of my most peaceful times, if not my most peaceful time, of my life. Every time God has spoken to me in life, it was through people and nature; through the most beautiful sights in the world that I’ve seen, I’ve gained something in life from it. Almost like I’m unlocking an achievement. Being on a cruise and seeing the sunrise and now being in Japan seeing nature while meditating. Meditating at the Sosenji Temple made me realize that there’s things that I want in life and things that God wants for me. For God knows the plans for me.
So, I had to ask myself what matters most in life? Is it money, big houses, having millions of followers or subscribers, being famous, having multiple houses? Or is it my faith, being able to move a mountain with my faith, traveling the world helping people and preaching God’s word? Is it creating my story to help people find their purpose in life and the reason God put them on this earth? Is it family and friends I hold close to me? There’s two ways to live this life, through a man’s lens or God’s lens. Life’s not always about becoming the greatest of all time at something; that’s a man achievement, something that will not last forever. Life is about pleasing God and living for Him. And He will live through me and you. Before my experience, I wanted to be famous, the greatest basketball/football player, greatest mangaka (comic book artist) or the best anime Youtuber; however, it isn’t about that anymore. It should’ve never been about that. It’s about being happy, enjoying life, not living for one’s own self and finding happiness through being a tool used by God.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Before going to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, I heard about how impactful and emotional the experience was. But the one thing I’ve realized is that you will never truly understand if you’re on the outside looking in, and that you will need to visit the museum firsthand yourself to truly understand the impact the atomic bomb.
My experience at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was an emotional one, especially to see how much conflict affects people who have nothing to do with the situation. I experienced the horrific events of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima done by my home country, the United States. During my time in Japan, I was lost for words over many experiences, whether they were positive or negative for me. The experience of going to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and seeing the history and events of the atomic bomb left immense sadness in my heart for the people of Hiroshima. Sadness towards the fact that conflict affects people who do not have control over what happens to them or their home. It still hurts.
Thinking about what if this happened to my home country, or to even people that I love dearly. Learning about what the people experienced. I remember thinking, why does conflict need to get to this point? What caused this event? Who are the leaders that had conflict with one another? What were they fighting for? Was this atomic bomb necessary? What can I do to help? And how can I help decrease conflict in today’s age? God gave us this world to take care of and for us to prosper. And here we are fighting over things and destroying the earth God gave us. These are the thoughts that crossed my mind after my experience at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. I felt ashamed that I was ignorant of all this before, and thankful I got the opportunity to experience everything I did.
People who survived the atomic bomb were left with horrific events cemented into their heads, loved ones lost, confused on the events that just occurred. People not being available to receive the resources needed to survive the catastrophic events. It was very sad to see. I remember thinking that there is no need for conflict no matter how great it is. Even in my life, there is no need for conflict, no need for me going back and forth with others, holding grudges, or anything. We should love one another. Imagine if everyone around the world cooperated with one another and loved one another. This earth God gave us would be so amazing.
Then for me sadness became motivation. I can become someone who creates peace and less conflict. Asking myself, how can I use my talents, my gifts, and abilities to promote peace and less conflict in today’s world? What can we all do to promote peace?