To say that living the life in Rikuzentakata for a week was the most humbling experience of my life is beyond an understatement. Watching each citizen explain the tragedies they went through, then watching them have smiles on their faces from ear to ear changed my entire perspective. These people took optimism and strength to a whole new level and more than anything, I think each human needs to witness a group of such strong people like this, because it is more than eye opening. After being apart of this exchange, I will always know that no matter what happens, going through life with a smile is the most important part, and no problem is too big to overcome.
Aside from the connections and the people, there was so much to look at, and so much to see. Everything seemed to have a touch that was different than what would be seen in America; the way the buildings were set up, the culture, everyday routine. When you are raised and living in one country, one part of the world for so long, you are told that people do things differently than you do things, but that is very hard to believe without stepping out of your comfort zone, onto a plane, or a boat, or a car, and seeing it for yourself. Going to Rikuzentakata is a very eye opening place to do this at, because I was able to see not only the big city “bang” when traveling through Tokyo, but I was able to see normal everyday life, with a huge side of optimism attached. Because of this experience, I will always view the world a little differently, with a smile of course.
Samantha Fuller, California, USA