(Text in English to follow)
by Jada Davis (senior Journalism major and Study-Abroad student from Temple Main Campus)
On Sunday, September 24, there was a small community cleanup which took place in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture of Japan, where TUJ’s dorm is located. In an effort to connect with the community surrounding the Crevia Will Musashi Kosugi dorm, five TUJ students, including myself, volunteered to be a part of the neighborhood cleanup as well as participate in an emergency drill procedure. We departed the dorm at 9 am and upon arriving at the meeting spot, we were introduced to many members of the community. There were about fifty people of all ages who were geared up and ready to clean. This included members of the local fire department and an entire little league baseball team. Armed with a pair of gloves and a set of tongs, everyone went to work removing whatever trash they could find on their designated route. The little leaguers had the most energy, climbing under a small bridge and over precarious-looking gates to make sure that they picked up all of the trash. We found, unsurprisingly, that there was very little garbage on the roads, with the occasional cigarette butt here and there. For the most part, the streets are kept clean. However, one TUJ student did find and remove an entire cooking pan from the creek which ran through the center of the neighborhood. We speculated that a storm must’ve sent it into the creek or that someone had thrown it in a fit of rage. It was easily the highlight of the cleanup.
After all of the trash had been removed from the streets and piled neatly to the side in trash bags, we moved on to the next activity: safety drills. There were three exercises in which we were taught how to use a fire extinguisher, properly perform CPR, and tie a sling. The lessons were very informative. We even learned some new words such as “kasai,” which means fire and, “tasukete” which means help. After the safety lessons were over, everyone received emergency food and drinks and neighbors interacted with each other with a closeness that American communities seem to lack. I am always taken aback by the kindness of the Japanese people. On that day, everyone greeted me with a friendly, “Ohayōgozaimasu,” and although I couldn’t say much to them with my limited Japanese, they appreciated my efforts. One woman went even further and brought one of the TUJ students a glass of water when it was clear that she was feeling ill. By the time the event came to a close, it was noon and everyone left feeling a sense of accomplishment. We were able to give back to the community as well as connect with the members in our new little Japanese community.