Thursday, February 13, 2014

Life Lessons from Japan

My sons returned from an Asian tour with the band and they spent a day spilling out stories and experiences that they had overseas.  The two stories that stood out for me were their descriptions of the depth of the poverty in Jakarta, Indonesia.  They both said they thought they had seen poor when they toured South America, but in Indonesia the level of poverty they witnessed was overwhelming.  Sights like those can change a person.
The Devil Wears Prada

They also talked at length about their experience in Tokyo.  Most of the stories had to do with the kindness and politeness of the Japanese people.  They emphasized that it wasn't just staff or at venues, but people on the street, from a stranger helping them order lunch to the little lady that served them lunch remembering them the next day and helping them eat again.  Even at the show, kids would go nuts just like American kids during the songs, but between songs, you could hear a pin drop.  The people they encountered went out of their way to be helpful.

Both boys said their experience with the people of Japan made them want to be better people.  Made them want to be better people...I couldn't get those words out of my head.  I'm grateful to people who change my boys' lives for the better.

Their final story brought home their Tokyo experience.  When going through customs in Chicago, they observed a customs worker yelling at an Asian (maybe Japanese) passenger trying to get him to go in another line.  When raising his voice didn't do the trick, the worker grabbed the passenger's arm to physically move him.  The harsh, almost rude treatment of this passenger stood in stark contrast to the gentleness, politeness, and kindness they had experienced in Japan.  A life lesson from experiencing cultures not your own.


Petronus Towers Kuala Lumpur, Malasia

Singapore

Ben, Jon and Mike in Kuala Lumpur

14 comments:

Jules said...

Having lived in Japan, and working there. I can completely vouch for the the Japanese people. Very kind, polite, and friendly. I feel like that country is another of my homes. And i miss it as much as my home country, Australia.

QuiltSwissy said...

All I can say is wow! I know what you mean when you hear that from your kid's.My daughter constantly amazes me too.

Audrie said...

Ahhhh they went to Singapore too!! My homeland! :) It's an very different world in Asia, and living in the States, I have to remind myself that people have no idea that they're being offensive because it's not offensive here! And hopefully they extend the same courtesy to me because I know I function on a very different wavelength hehe I love when people step out of their culture to experience another, and learn lessons from it.

ChristaQuilts said...

Thanks for sharing those stories and the wonderful pictures. If we could all experience other cultures it really would change us for the better :-)

I could get used to these daily blog updates. Keep 'em coming!

Mama Spark said...

We have lots of Japanese people working where I do and they are great people to work with!

Grandma Ruthie said...

The best thing a person can do....especially a young person, is to travel. The world so small and when we limit ourselves to just one corner ofit we really deprive ourselves. Good for your kids and good for you for being an encouragement in their travels!

Dottie's Daughter said...

My son said the very same thing about Jakarta after a brief business trip there last week and remarked that the problems encountered in this country cannot compare to the poverty over there.

SusieDW said...

Kindness and welcoming ovations were my experiences 45 years ago while visiting Japan for about 3 weeks. I have always had an affinity for Japanese style and culture. Shibui.

Jane said...

Your pride in your sons and their growth just oozes out of your post! Isn't it fun to see your kids "grow up"?
Have you been to El Barco to eat yet? If not, try it!

patty a. said...

It is so wonderful that the band has gotten to travel overseas. It sounds like they learned a lot.

junglewife said...

I just moved back to the States after living in Indonesia for 7 years. Yes, it is a different world there, isn't it? And Singapore is a different world entirely from Indonesia. We always loved traveling there because it was like going back to nice, clean civilization :-)

Every time we traveled back and forth from Asia to the US I always noticed that as we got further from Asia, the flight attendants and other airline employees got less and less polite and helpful. Once I was traveling alone with a 2-year-old and 8 months pregnant to boot! Everyone was super helpful in Asia and once I got to the US they did not help me at all. Such a contrast.

Kristy said...

It is quite a contrast to life here in the US. While I've never been to Japan, I've traveled to Hong Kong and a few other cities in southern China off and on for a few years, and the same is true there as well. I witnessed on many occasions instances where the term "Ugly American" rang true, and it was those times when I wished that I could just run away and NOT be associated with the party of people I was with.

I'm happy to hear that your boys continue to learn quite a lot on their travels.

Mokki said...

I've been to Japan a couple of times. I love it there. It does make you want to be different when you come home; even in your tone of voice, Japanese people are so softly spoken, it's very refreshing. I'd reccomend anyone to visit Japan.

Courtney said...

I just had to come back and find this post to tell you how much I love it. I have three boys and shared this story with my two older ones, ages 5 and 7. We talked about how you treat people needing help and how we should be like the kind people that helped your sons order food and not the rude customs worker. They ask about it again and again, even today. I love your blog for all the amazing Quilty inspiration, but this is just so awesome too. It sounds like your boys have grown into wonderful men, you must be so proud! : )