I have a dream too … no more speeches


No, I don’t really mean that.  I actually enjoy them.  This morning I adjucated at a tiny, very informal speech contest in a rural seaside town, renowned for seafood.  The contestants were all elementary school students, all 22 of them.  There were only two judges.  One was me, and the other was … the Sonbeam (a friend of the organiser).  I have to say that I was impressed by the high standard of the recitations, and I was also impressed by the high turnout of parents.  Virtually every mother and every other grandmother showed up, and five fathers came along as well.  The atmosphere was rather casual, with several toddlers and babies running around during the speeches, but no-one minded a bit.  We two judges were in charge of deciding the five winners, who were all handed certificates, but as far as I’m concerned all of the kids were winners for just taking part.  There were various other events, and in between them young parent kept bringing their babies to show to me, which I just loved.  Sonbeam provided a jazzy musical interlude.  At the end of the show, there was a jump-rope contest: parents versus kids.  I was in charge of counting the jumps.  It was so much fun!   I would’ve done it for free. 

On the drive back to the station, the organiser said “I’m looking forward to seeing you both next year,” and so am I.


10 comments on “I have a dream too … no more speeches

  1. Karen says:

    Well, what a different experience than the other contest you usually judge. This one sounds like a big party. How’s the tea room going this weekend?

  2. Miko says:

    We are doing very nicely, and have opened on Mondays as well (in fact I’m just about to leave for work now). I’m enjoying it immensely, but drinking way too much coffee, which is probably not a good thing, considering …

  3. Miko says:

    Okay, so today at JJs I cautiously brought up the topic of the earthquake, and asked if anybody felt they were still suffering any after-effects from it. Talk about opening the floodgates! I was quite astonished by the stories they told me. One woman confessed that she still had to sleep with the light on and the bedroom door wide open, to ensure a quick escape route. Another said that her own mother was so traumatised that she now refuses to ever go to the bathroom alone (I don’t really understand why). I actually got the impression that the middle-aged and elderly suffered far worse effects than children and young adults, who were quick to bounce back. Anyway they asked me loads of questions about PTSD and I said I’d check up on it and get back to them. I like providing this kind of service, it makes me feel important!

  4. Miko says:

    One thing I’m not looking forward to at the little rural “speech contest” next year: the fact that the town hall public facilities are shared by both men and women. What I mean is, the toilets, urinals and washbasins are all in the same room. I actually bumped into one of the dads with his kit out, and it was horribly embarrassing. This situation would be unthinkable in Kobe.

  5. Karen says:

    Good lord, they need to put a lock on that bathroom! How frightful.

    Interesting, but not surprising, all the after effects that are still very fresh from the earthquake. One of the things our PD used to do after a particularly traumatic event was have a group “debriefing”. A psychologist or counselor was always in charge to guide the discussion, but the debriefing was open to anyone (emergency responders) who worked the event and wanted/needed to talk about it. It has been discovered that these group debriefings and the sharing of effects, feelings, and incidents, help people to recover. There was also individual counseling available. You might do these people a huge service if you could find someone who would lead a group “discussion” of this sort, and let them talk about their experiences. You could lead it yourself, if you felt up to it. But, it sounds to me as if people have been discouraged from talking about it, and there is a real pent-up need. Just a thought.

  6. Miko says:

    Thank you very much for your email and the links you sent me. I agree there is a need for this kind of debriefing thing here. Obviously it’s not an easy topic to broach, and my job requires me to present a cheery, upbeat persona and not talk about depressing shit, but I don’t see why the two should be mutually exclusive. One thing that struck me was how much easier people found to talk about it in English rather than Japanese, I thought that was really interesting. I could call it an English study group about PTSD, or we could talk about the reconstruction efforts in Kobe (a topic of great interest to those of us who live here, especially in terms of political fuckwittery) and take it from there.

  7. Karen says:

    “Political fuckwittery” LOL. Wonderful turn of phrase.

    I think your idea is excellent. Make it as informal as possible. If there ever comes a time when you & the group are ready for a more in-depth sort of debriefing, I feel certain there would be people in the US military there who would love to help with that. I have no idea what presence we have there any more, if any. But, the military debriefs their people all the time with traumatic events. They’re bound to have people trained in leading group debriefings. Using the info in the links I sent you, you should have a really good idea how to “guide” the discussion. Sounds as if there’s a crying need for it.

  8. Miko says:

    There is still a strong military presence in Japan with several bases in strategic locations (although nowhere near Kobe), but unfortunately because of global security issues it is difficult nowadays for regular Japanese people to have access to military bases, and vice-versa. I could probably get my hands on an Anglican or Catholic priest, though. Heh heh.

  9. karen1945 says:

    Ohhhhh, I hope it’s a dishy vicar.

    You could probably contact a base via email. Start with a chaplain. It wouldn’t matter if it’s close to Kobe. I’m guessing they’d love to travel.

  10. karen1945 says:

    I’ve been having trouble with “comments”. Thought I’d left one here, and it disappeared.

    You wouldn’t need to get on a base. Just contact the base by phone or email. I guarantee there’s a website for each. In fact, here’s a link to a map of US bases in Japan. Each one has a link, and the one I check listed “counseling services”. You could email or call. I guarantee someone would love to come counsel, just to get to sightsee!

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