I am taking a break from my history and amateur anthropological and sociological research about the whys of today to remember a not-too-long-ago trip to Asia with my grandson, Ethan, who turns 20 today. But this post is still relevant given Mark Twain’s comment: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” And Ethan and I did not vegetate!
June 16, 2014. I’m leaving on a jet plane—is there any other kind? But seriously, my grandson and I took off this morning for Japan. He just graduated from high school and starts college early this fall. I told him I would take him on an international trip of his chosen destination—not as an extravagant gift, but as part of his education, as he has not traveled out of North America. His choice: the Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan. So we travel to Tokyo then Hiroshima and Kyoto, followed by Cambodia; Thailand; Bhutan; and India. In each country we will have home visits with students Ethan’s age as well as the usual sight-seeing. Some of the places we are visiting I have been before, a few several times, but even if not new to me, they will be new as seen through Ethan’s eyes and impressions. So it will be an educational trip for both of us, but like jet planes, is there any other kind?
Today (June 25, 2014), Ethan is visiting a Hiroshima family with two teen-age daughters who are taking him to the university where they study and for dinner with their family. I arranged this through a wonderful program at the International Exchange Lounge, located near the Peace Museum. If interested, you need to contact them ahead of time, but final logistics need to be completed with an in-person visit and interview. Here’s an email address for them. They need at least a 1-day advance appointment to arrange a visit: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ethan reports that it was genuine, heartwarming, and fun!
I took advantage of his being otherwise engaged to go to the Sukkeien Gardens, which I found calming and particularly delightful that the feudal lords, the daimyo, found the “elegant shoinzukuri writing chamber beloved.” What author or poet wouldn’t love having a writing sanctuary located in the middle of their garden!
Ethan and his dad on a visit just before we left on our circumnavigation in 2001.
Ethan’s Senior Prom.
Ethan at Miyjima in Japan.
Happy Birthday, ETHAN!