Jim and I attended the Fellows (alumni) weekend for the US-Japan Leadership Program (www.usjlp.org) this past week. The event was held in Seattle. It’s always a wonderful time to get to know the new delegates and catch up with what the Fellows are doing with their lives.
I will say, however, that I was put in my proper place by a couple of Fellows, both of whose first words to me (after not seeing me for a year) were, “Is Marcus here?” Yes, I’m calling you out, Dan Tani and Marc Walwyn! (To be honest, it was a lovely compliment to our 16 year old, who has managed to endear himself to all of the younger children who attend.) 🙂
Seattle was beautiful and sunny (I know, Seattle friends, you would like to think it is that way year-round). It was also the week of Seafair, with the Blue Angels performing. We did get to see them practice on Saturday, and they are a marvel of flying beauty, as always. We were told that the Blue Angel pilots trim their controls all the way back so that they are pressing the equivalent of a forty pound force when they fly in order to fly with control and precision. The pilots certainly have little margin for error. They are always impressive! (And a great recruiting tool for the Navy.) Here is a brief video of it:
We also received confirmation that we are old. We have been involved in the program for almost 20 years, and when the Fellows look like mere children, you know you are old.
But, in the end, the most important aspect of the USJLP weekend was creating and renewing the bonds of friendship. We were, as we always are, thrilled to be part of such a fantastic program!
I highly recommend the concept of being in Hawaii in February. (Yes, that absolutely was an exercise in gloating.) I was there for an executive committee meeting of the US-Japan Leadership Program, and Jim and I stayed a few extra days afterwards to enjoy paradise (aka Hawaii). We stayed in Honolulu, as we think the best restaurants and museums on the islands are there. (Restaurant reviews to follow.)
Our children were offered the option of missing a week of school to join us, but our daughter decided she’d be missing too much school that way and opted not to go. I am not certain whether to be pleased at the responsibility she demonstrated or appalled at the fact that she turned down a trip to Hawaii. I’m still pondering that one. Our son, who would have happily missed a week of school to go to Hawaii, is still rather miffed that he couldn’t go, thanks to his older sister.
The USJLP executive committee meeting went quite well, and I think we have a fabulous group of new delegates for the program. It should be a lively group in Japan this summer when they meet up. It was also really wonderful to see everyone on the executive committee again. They are a great group of people (and have an incredible capacity for beer and sake).
But the really lovely thing about Hawaii is its incredible natural beauty. (Jim would say that the natural beauty of the Hawaii residents isn’t bad either.) We hiked Diamondhead in the early morning so that we could see the sunrise up there. And, of course, there are miles of beautiful beaches and ocean.
This is the view from Diamondhead:
Diamondhead at sunrise
And this is the view from our (upgraded) hotel room:
view from the Halekulani
A big thank you to my parents, who were willing to fly out from southern California (where it’s sunny and warm) to watch the kids while we were gone (where it was neither sunny nor warm).
After attending the Epilepsy Pipeline conference for a day, I flew to Honolulu to attend the annual US-Japan Leadership Program Executive Committee meeting. Honolulu was, as it always seems to be, beautiful–80 degrees and sunny. The meeting was an extremely productive meeting. We have some marvelous Fellows-in-the-making for this year. And the energy at the meeting was a wonderful thing because it meant that people were passionate about the program and want it to succeed.
And, in the end, is there any significant downside when the meeting is in Hawaii? (Other than missing the Super Bowl when flying back on Sunday, that is.) Here is a shot of Diamondhead at sunrise to illustrate.
The US-Japan Leadership Program is a cross-cultural program for young leaders (defined as 28-42 years old) where 20 Japanese and 20 Americans spend a week together, alternating between Seattle and Japan, learning about each other’s culture. The hope is that the bonds of friendship forged over the 2 weeks (each delegate commits to both the Seattle and the Japan weeks) will come in handy in the event that official channels of communication ever break down. And, of course, the hope is that official channels never break down if there are leaders in both countries with experience and understanding of the other country’s culture and thinking. I have been co-chair of the USJLP executive committee and am currently co-chair of the capital campaign.
This has been an interesting program for me. As someone whose family on both sides fled the Japanese invasion of China and suffered considerable hardship as a result of that invasion, there are cultural and historical difficulties in a relationship with the Japanese. This is especially true when there are Japanese who deny the atrocities committed during their invasion and occupation of China. (There are actually Japanese in the program who fall in that group.) But, in the end, the Japanese in the program are overwhelmingly global in their approach and sophisticated in their thinking, and it has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about their mindset. In addition, Japanese women, in particular, have great admiration and envy of American women who can successfully (relatively speaking) juggle marriage, children, and a career. The vast majority of Japanese women give up their career upon marriage and certainly do so after having children. Whatever the obstacles American women encounter with our juggling act of family and career, it is nothing compared to the struggles of Japanese women, and their outlook upon their own culture is refreshingly candid. As I tell the Japanese women in the program, I look forward to their revolutionizing Japanese society in the coming years! You can find out more at www.usjlp.org.