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July 5, 2010

Today’s ACT Guest Blog Post by Valerie Ziegler

NOTE:  This blog entry is excerpted and cross-posted from a travel blog written by the 2010 California Teachers of the Year in their Journals From Japan.  The five-teacher contingent includes InterACT blogger Kelly Kovacic and ACT member Valerie Ziegler.  Please go to their blog to see all the pictures, read additional entries, and leave them some comments.  (DC)

Over the last week the five of us have been working together to reflect on our day, choose photos and write a post. After a fun but tiring week with our host families we are exhausted. Since I am the final member of the team to post you are getting my reflection on the day “unedited” by my fellow CATOYS.

Our day began with the excitement of seeing each other after our family home stays. We were easily the loudest group on the bullet train to Hiroshima as we shared stories and laughed over our cultural missteps. The winning highlights: Kathy’s night of karaoke, Amber napping with her host family in a road side stop and my explanation of the Electoral College in a rice field. All of these contained “teachable moments.”

We arrived in Hiroshima to find a bustling city-much more than any of us had anticipated. We had a traditional Hiroshima lunch of a okonomi-yaki that was served on a skillet at our table. We then proceeded to the Peace Memorial Park and Hiroshima Memorial Museum. The group was in agreement that the visit today was almost surreal. Our animated guide Akiko is an expert on the history of Hiroshima and her husband is a bombing survivor. Her personal stories had a level of realism that add to the power of our visit. It was difficult to process the images and information we were given about the tragic events of August 6, 1945 as we looked out at the greenery on a warm and sunny July day. Each of us took away stories, memories and information about the dropping of the atomic bomb that will make its way into our classrooms. The most powerful take away was that the memorials stand not as a point of blame but more of a remembrance and as a quest to end nuclear war. If the answer were only as a simple as making a 1,000 paper cranes.

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