Hello everyone, I am currently a JET Programme Assistant Language Teacher here in Sendai. I would like to present the National Association of Japanese Canadians with a gift of a book that symbolizes Canada-Japan bilateral relations. I do not wish to overwhelm you with too much exposition so I will try my best to be as succinct as possible. My junior high school students and I were able to make a book that commemorates the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in addition to celebrating Japan as the host of this year’s G7 Summit.
This school project offers a rare look at the 3/11 aftermath and reconstruction as my students were just elementary school students at the time of the disaster. Our area especially took the brunt of the earthquake and tsunami as it is located on the Sendai coastline. What makes this quite unique is that our book is primarily written in English (there are some portions written in Japanese due to the subject matter at hand). As a result the book is able to reach a much wider audience. In our book, my students not only share their hopes and dreams for the future but also introduce the world to their hometown and culture.
Originally this book was just a school activity with the final intention of giving the completed copy to the City of Sendai as a goodwill gesture. Sendai was one of the host cities for this year’s G7 Summit, so it was a nice opportunity for my students. But as luck would have it, the City of Sendai took great interest in the project and requested for it to be integrated into their festivities for the hosting of the Financial Ministers and Bank Governors. Eventually, this project gained more momentum as I would later be able to get in touch with the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo. Our school project would even gain the attention of Global Affairs Canada, the department for foreign affairs. That led to my students and I receiving commendation from the Director of the Northeast Asia Division, Mr. Christopher Burton on behalf of Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Ms. Marie-Claude Bibeau for our endeavor.
I would then get in contact with the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver and the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa. Both gave their blessings to the project and wished us the best. Our school project was heading into uncharted, yet exciting territory for us.
But the clock would eventually strike midnight and unfortunately, due to being overwhelmed by the project given the time frame required, I was unable to meet the deadline for the G7 Summit in Sendai. As a result I missed the gracious opportunity provided by our city for the book to be present at both Sendai and Mie G7 events.
All was not lost as both the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo and Global Affairs Canada continued their support for this project. I did not give up, and went out of my way to make this book a reality. The hard work would be worth it at the end as with the assistance of both the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo and Global Affairs Canada, we are getting a small set of books published and distributed to destinations of high importance and relevance in both Canada and Japan. And I would like for your association to be one of those destinations in Canada to continue promoting friendship and bilateral relations between both countries.
Shichigo Junior High School
Assistant Language Teacher
Sendai JET Programme