Hello this is Andrew from Uni.House and this is my final blog post as a volunteer staff. I had spent the last 3 months at Uni.House as the opening staff and it was one hell of an adventure to say the least. As I returned to America the emotions began to run through me very intensely as I was remembering all of the events that had happened over the past months and a slight feeling of sadness lurked into my heart as I began to realize all of the adventures both good and bad that had taken place. The fun times, the hard times, and the normal times all hold a special place in my heart and for that I am thankful.
I first arrived in the town of Ushimado on the 28th of August and at first glance I feel in love it was small, but not too small, and located right next to the ocean and the Seto Inland sea. When I first arrived it was slightly rainy and Yuri’s first smile of relief seeing me at Okayama station made me feel excited to finally arrive, it was one of relief and excitement with a subtle glow in her eyes. She ran up to gave me a hug as I hastily put out my hand to give her a handshake. From there on we became good friends slowly building up our friendship over the next 3 months getting to know all the gritty nitty details about each other, it was to say the least truly an honor to have been able to experience that opportunity. It was then that I made a sole promise to myself, which was to protect the girls in Uni.House and do everything I can to help Yuri accomplish her dream. On my first day Uni.House was not complete yet so Yuri told me you will be sleeping in an abandoned building and whatever you do, do not touch anything lol! But it was from that moment that I felt a sense of relief I knew from then that I was going to have a real experience in Japan void of all the tourism crap that I usually avoid because you miss the real feeling of the place.
I began to explore the town and the surrounding area and was stunned by the amount of tiny local spots not seen on any maps that I encountered, I often returned to them and tried to give back to them through my stay to make them a little better each time. However Ushimado is small and what my true feeling of joy stemmed from was not the places but instead the people that went to the places with me and the memories that we shared with one another. That was the real charm of Okayama was. So upon returning to America I realized this sense of sadness dwelling within my heart as I am now returning to normal life and the people I encountered will now be returning to their normal routines and the memories we shared are now just memories as life will continue to move forward changing with each day and as new memories pile on the old ones will begin to fade into the past. However, it was at that point I remembered what it means to be alive and it is such as time continues to move forward so it is our choice to dwell within the past or continue to push forward with our lives. What is done is done but the future still lies ahead and as for memories we can forget them or cherish them and make good on our past promises to make a better future for ourselves. Thus just because a sea and space separates people does not mean that new memories in the future cannot be made with the special friends we have once encountered in our lives. Sure our situations will be different at the time but the change in each of our human conditions is something special and is what brings joy into our life and vitality into friendships. I will always cherish the memories and friends that I made in Ushimado and Okayama. Therefore with that in mind it gives me a little strength to fight forward everyday into the future until the time where we can all meet again and begin to create new experiences together enriching our lives. So with that I will do my best everyday in normal life and I expect the same from all of you, this is my pledge as a traveller.
My final message to all the special individuals that I was given the opportunity to encounter is simple, when you look at the night sky wherever you are in the world the lights in the sky are the same across all countries, places, and cultures and for that brief moment maybe our gazes will cross again as we both gaze into the heavens.