A few thoughts by two of our young members of the tour about their experience so far.
You may think that connecting with our ancestors by simply learning of our history is an easy thing to do, but this tour is truly an eye opening experience. Walking on the same paths, standing in front of the royal mausoleum, hearing the stories from the elders are things you can only feel while in Okinawa. Also, visiting Okinawa is more than just an experience, it’s builds a link to our past by the interactions and connections we make to the elders whom have lived through the tragedies and hardships of war, oppression, and day to day struggles. At the end of this trip, I’ll still be proud to say I’m Okinawan, but more importantly I’ll be able to explain why.
So far, I guess I find it quite eye-opening as a mere observer: I come to Okinawa not seeking anything or anyone, but I come with a open-mind. I have been told of the plight of the first and second generations by Senseis Eric and Norman, and all of the suffering they endured for the sake of their offspring and the hope of a better future. Although I trust their knowledge (and by no means question them), there is an added element when you listen and interact with the survivors of these horrific tragedies. A fellow participant said that this trip was a “confirmation” of everything we have heard and learned from the Seneis. I couldn’t agree more. Each day that passes, I have come to realize that Okinawans themselves are quite ignorant of the elements which have defined them as a unique culture. Other than Shisas (they are lions, NOT lion-dogs) that are situated on prominent spaces on residential and commercial properties, I see more of a Japanese and American culture here as oppose to a beautiful Okinawan one. Well, I’m just speaking as a mere observer. We’ll see what the rest of the tour has in store.