This is Courtney, sending you this update from beautiful Okinawa! Sorry that it's been a while since the last update, but this is the first time I have had internet access.
So, we arrived in Okinawa on the 10th, which was also Kuni's birthday! It was so fun to celebrate his birthday in his own home town! So far our accomodations in Okinawa have been crazy! Right now we're in a hotel on a really busy street, with 7 showers for the 70 of us, a literal jungle growing in the lobby, and we have to pay per hour to use the air conditioning. And about showering, 4 of the showers are located in another building which is about a 7 minute walk away...through the busy busy night streets, which I traversed with a towel wrapped around my head...But, it's so beautiful here and we're having a great time!
I took this photo standing in the doorway of my room. One step away from our indoor jungle!
Today the Japan-America Student Conference was fortunate enough to be able to travel around Okinawa to various places related to the U.S. bases in Okinawa. First we visited Henoko, the place where the base is trying to relocate, and spoke with activists who oppose the base's relocation. Then we were able to visit Camp Foster and speak with the marines there and find out what the base has been up to in terms of community involvement, disaster relief, and military operations. Finally, we visited a local school next to the Futenma Air Base that has struggled with noise and air pollution related to the military's touch and go airplane practice. At the elementary school I was also blessed by another amazing opportunity, and was interviewed by a local television network about my thoughts on the Futenma Air Base issue. Some of the questions I was asked were kind of difficult, but if I come across the news segment anywhere I will let you know!
On a more fun note that isn't related to the base issue, yesterday a group of us decided to go to the beach (at 11:00 pm!). On the way we heard drums in the street, and were fortunate enough to stumble upon the Bonodori parade for the festival of Obon! After that we made our way to the Pacific Ocean. It was my first time visiting the Pacific, and I loved how calm and warm it was.
Here is a video of the Obon Festival we stumbled across!
So far our schedule has been absolutely packed. But we do have internet at this location, so I hope to post one more time from Okinawa. Thanks!