“Let’s make a personal commitment and take action” – Euna Lim a Paraguay-Korean living in Japan tells her story of volunteering in Ishinomaki

This is the third in a series of reports by Peace Boat interns about their experiences volunteering in Ishinomaki.
The Japanese language version is also available online here.

I am a student of an American University and am taking the opportunity to intern in Japan over the summer. We had the opportunity to volunteer in Ishinomaki city as Peace Boat interns.

When I watched the news of the 3.11 disaster in Japan while in America, I really felt the extent of the devastation which nature and its elements can cause. However, the sight that I actually witnessed with my own eyes brought me to tears. What I felt as I saw the present situation in Ishinomaki, was stronger gratitude for my own life, my friends and family, and the everyday life that passes by.

Though I felt the limitations of the actions I could take during our short-term volunteer effort, I felt I was able to see the efforts the local people who are trying to rebuild their lives. Their action gave us volunteers strength and united our efforts towards the relief effort. The kind smiles and comments of gratitude we received from the local people made me really happy. Small efforts and small steps everyone takes together everyday become something the future can build on tomorrow.

There are many different perspectives and views, but I heard of one that claimed “The Japanese government has funds, but are not taking effective action. Therefore there is no need for the Japanese citizens to go and volunteer for the relief efforts.”  All of us, including the people of the Japanese government, are citizens of Japan even before people are government officials. There are bad and good people, even within the government and of course in general. I feel that all of us should be working towards rebuilding and taking part in the recovery efforts of the 3.11 Tohoku disaster regardless of our differences.

In his 1961 Inaugural Address, United States President Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you– ask what you can do for your country”.  I was able to better understand the meaning of this wise quote through my experience in Ishinomaki.

Let’s make a personal commitment and take action!! – Euna

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