Special Snow

I'm currently having an overflow of thoughts, so although I posted this first, I might post another one in the future further describing and explaining the events that took place before this.

Last year, I spent two weeks on an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan. (If I'm already done with the follow-up "prequel" article, you should be able to find it here) We spent most of the trip in the Miyagi Prefecture. Kurihara City, to be even more specific.

Unlike most "normal" trips to Japan, this one was a program by the Japanese Government and Board of Education with ASEAN countries. This meant sightseeing, visiting schools, staying in a traditional Japanese home with a Japanese family, and lots of fun!

Kianna threw a snowball at me.
It was a first.
During most of our activities, we were accompanied by students of the two Junior High Schools in Kurihara City. They quickly became our friends and were part of many of our fond memories in Japan.

One morning, while the students of Kurihara were not with us, we woke up to see snow for the first time in our trip in Miyagi! Although I have seen snow before, this was the first time for me to see snow thick enough to be piling up on the floor and making everything all nice and white!

Waking Up to a Snowy Hanayama Center in Kurihara

Couldn't give up the opportunity to do this!!!

When we did get to meet again with the students from Kurihara, we shared nonstop stories of snow and magic. Eventually, we had to leave Kurihara to go to Tokyo for the final part of our program: Presentation Day. 

All the participating countries were asked in advance to prepare for a presentation about problems in their respective countries, and how they, as the youth, could provide a solution. The Japanese were no exception, two different presentations from the students of Japan. 

Kurihara, Miyagi was represented by one student from each of the two schools in the city. Although we practiced our and their presentations while still in Kurihara, we never understood theirs because it was in Japanese. This time, however, we had a professional translator to translate our presentation to Japanese, and theirs to English. 

They talked about the issue of the decreasing population in Kurihara, which they could solve by sharing its charms to the world through Social Media, or what they call SNS (Social Networking Sites) in Japan. Their charms include the rich nature, agriculture, food, and people. I couldn't have agreed with them more. The crown jewel of Kurihara was the people. In the midst of the blazing cold, we felt warm because we were with them. 

They also mentioned to continue interacting with people outside their city, be it in other cities in Japan or other countries like the Philippines. This, according to them, widens their perspectives. And here is what made their presentation so precious to me. One of them shared an anecdote about the time they spent with us. 

She said that snow was, to them, a nuisance. It was cold, it was freezing, and it was dangerous to drive. And then she started to get teary eyed. "When they told me about their first experiences in the snow and how happy it made them, I couldn't understand how something so normal, and even bothering, could be so special to others. This experience opened my eyes to a different perspective, one very different from mine." 

At that point, it also made me wonder, am I also forgetting to appreciate the things I am blessed to have? This experience is funny, because she learned to open her perspective from us, who in turn learned to open our own eyes. And I can't help but feel that this one thought has already made all the difference for me. Oh, what special snow. 

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