The joy of being immersed in a culture shows itself in unexpected ways. First, I witnessed the community culture that begins at a very young age. We have seen, for example, how soccer teams are responsible for the upkeep of their fields. After playing a game (as in Nishiki) or a tournament (like Greenland Cup), the home team rakes out the field (like a baseball infield). They store all the gear. There is no need to tell them; it is understood. I imagine it is the same for all sports clubs. I was surprised and pleased to hear the girls asking if they should help, too!
In the home, too, I saw an allocation of duties that, for me, demonstrated a strong commitment to and love for family. Whether big or small, each family lives communally. Households can include grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and children. Households run seamlessly and in a way we could not fathom. I, for one, have had my share of difficulties when living with extended family. But here, the individual gives up part of his or her "self" in service of the whole. Although roles, from a Western perspective, may seem restrictive, it is the air they breathe. I could not detect any hint of angst.
Another example of this love of family is seen in the exchange itself. The Sanvino (and Trebol) families have chosen to be involved in a huge undertaking in order to help their children grow. Sanvino Club began planning this exchange over 6 months ago. And they have coninued to work (and work) For the entire week. Like in Colorado, these families come from all ranges of the socioeconomic spectrum. They are professionals and working class, they work outside the home and are homemakers. Soccer has been the bridge within Japan and, with these exchanges, it has become the bridge to the larger world. All parents hope this exchange will benefit their children for life.
Today we visited Nagasaki Peace Museum and had a presentation from Mr. Yamawaki, a survivor of the bombing. For me, this difficult visit was another route to creating a better future for our children and for all of humanity. The museum and Mr. Yamawaki are dedicated to nuclear non-proliferation. Between the museum and the survior we got a full and harrowing account of the effects of war and, in particular, nuclear war. All the players and siblings came away with a deeper understanding of the human toll. The visit "made real" things that they had only seen in books. As Amy said, now that she has met Japanese families and children she was very sad to think of all that had died. It is my hope that these players will remember the human face of the host families, the survivor, and all the people of the world as they grow into adulthood. Creating empathy is another milestone in their development.
Lastly, I have seen the girls easily coalesce into a great team with the help of the Sanvino and Nishiki Clubs. The girls have become more confident in their soccer and, I think, in themselves. They have come to a foreign country, been faced with sometimes strange and certainly different experiences, and have come out gracefully. All the young ladies were open to the experience, whether it be types of food, manner of eating/sleeping/grooming, formality of culture or speed of soccer play. They handled the difficulty in communication with good humor as well. They have come out winners in so many ways. I hope they are proud of themselves.
For me, the exchange felt like a continuation of the last exchange. Many first exchange families were involved in this second exchange. Yet there were new and wonderful new families as well. I was thrilled to see how much the Sanvino kids have grown in the last few years. I cannot wait for the next visit.