Hoho finally huh! After that fairly good night, we woke up with a heavy heart for the final day of the Student Power: Connecting the World Project. For the past couple days we've had meals in this little cafe downstairs, that morning we had a good breakfast served as well.
Healthy breakfast of toast, salad, soup, meat, yogurt and fresh fruits. Got cherries also! After a good meal and some light chit chat, we headed towards to conference room to begin the final team presentation session. Besides the participants, there were reps from Fukushima University, Rotary Club of Minami-Souma, as well as the local media. Gulp. Each team member took turns to share different points. I asked Ribon to take some photos when it's my turn and I'd help her do the same haha! I did it all in English, luckily my interpreter assisted throughout the process.
As each team presented, it was rather interesting to hear their views. You know how there's this stereotype that the Japanese keep their personal opinions and feelings to themselves rather than voicing it out to the world? It's incredibly refreshing to hear the teams strongly voice out their thoughts to the audience and trust me, it wasn't all rainbows and roses. I have the utmost respect for the project leaders that took these in stride and further emphasised that this entire project was not organized to lead our opinions in a particular direction. It was to open up our eyes to the everyday reality of Fukushima after the major disaster, and let our thoughts and perspectives form freely by itself.
At some point, a participant stated that he's not likely to return again until the area is officially fully secure from radiation, to which everyone responded with silence. To be clear, it's not that it wasn't secure at the time, but there were still of course risks of exposure. But to say that out loud so clearly, it was interesting to see the expressions that reacted to it. It's really admirable these young students were feeling so passionately about what's going on in the country and actively pursuing a variety of knowledge and experiences. A big contrast to my personal impression of students back home, which includes myself.
After all teams presented, I got pulled into an interview with the media gah super embarassing to have all the attention like that. Picked me possibly because I was the most "foreign" in both language and hair color. Should have touched up hair color before the project lol hope I did not embarass my country wtf
Ended the session with obligatory group photo!
None of the group photos came out perfect hahahaha
Took individual photos with everyone as well hehe super semangat ok tulah keremajaan, hoped to remember everyone's names! Gave this back. Still don't know how it works and how the read the radiation stats fml
Grabbed our luggages and re-group at the lobby to say goodbyes!
The atmosphere was amazing though. Some were sad to that the project has come to an end, some could barely believe time flew so quickly, some were relieved that the project completed so successfully, and many were simply happy with the promise of new friendships. My host dad also saw me off, so sad to leave!
The bus departed and headed towards Tokyo. It was a long ride and many fell asleep right away after the bento lunch provided in the bus. At first I sat alone but Ribon asked me over and we had such a great time chatting and giggling and being silly. The bus later stopped at a highway rest stop (love 'em!) and I still have quite a lot of money left, so we both grabbed some ice cream.
Looks all fine and dandy, but seconds later I don't know what happened I spilled the entire ice cream cone on myself. My bag, phone, pants and hands were soiled it was so ridiculous I don't know what came over us we burst out laughing and laughing and laughing. It was just so ridiculous! We felt damn bad laughing also because some others were asleep but there's no stopping once it started hahaha I still remember this incident so clearly after almost three years. The bus arrived at Haneda Airport and I got off with Diida and Hiroshi, leaving the others to head straight to the city.
Ribon quickly passed me a letter. Super sweet and thoughtful notes!
I still had plenty of time before the night flight departs so I left my luggage in the rented lockers, and took a train to have a little exploration in Akihabara, Tokyo. I think there was a train heading straight there, which was why I chose to head there hahahaha otherwise I'd totally have gone for Shibuya. The journey took around half hour, and I was soon embraced by the city's neon lights. Didn't do much really, just grabbed some kebab dinner and aimlessly explored around for an hour or two. Didn't buy anything boo
As it was about time to head back to the airport, I had no idea how to go back to the station anymore fml had to aimlessly look for any random train stations. A bit panic but I found my way to the subway. I think it was the first time I took a subway in Japan, a total world of difference from the JR Line trains that I'd usually take in Tokyo.You see hahahaha
So I got to the airport in time, checked-in and had the most ridiculous experience of my entire life. Just as people were lining up the gate for boarding, I decided to go for a pee. As I was doing my business in the cubicle, it dawned on me that I might have entered the men's bathroom, usually indicated with blue color at the outside.
Then I vaguely remembered glimpses of urinals, which I had initially brushed off as kids urinals sometimes found in women's bathroom. I was like OMFG WHAT HAVE I DONE. Somemore already time to board plane!
To confirm, I took a peep under the door and really can see some men's shoes walking on out, and far-off sound of peeing faaark I had no idea what to do, just panic and cold sweat in the cubicle. Scared people suspect what I do so long inside no sound so I flushed a few times also hahahahaha but no choice die die still have to get out, so I put my hair up to look less girlish and comtemplated just running out but damn chicken shit keep looking under the door to see if anyone's coming or not.
This went on for like an eternity until the point I didn't hear much noise anymore and decided to just fuck it, brace myself and ran out without looking up at anymore. I have no idea if anyone saw me but after I gone out I realized that I really sweat like mad hahahaha scared like hell.
Ok the end. FINALLY! Bring out the fireworks!