I am the Aya-town independent Co-Ordinator for International Relations (CIR), but in other cities, towns, and villages in Japan the CIRs are almost all working for the Ministry of Education International Youth Work Program (JET Programme). Their terms are three yaers at the most. Some people go home after just one year, but most CIRs stay for two or even three years. Their terms are from August to July of the following year, so every summer many towns have their own Going Away Parties. This is the worst time of the year for me. I hate July.
This year is especially difficult for me, because the city of Saito is losing Ms. Beth Ec, who is returning to the US now that her three years are up. I will miss her very much. Not only did she teach at Aya's Cultural Exchange (ACE) meetings, she also worked hard at our Junior High and High School overnight camps and at our International Speech Contest. Also, she was one of the leaders of Miyazaki's foreign community so helped organize our prefectural Earth Day festival and our Aya-local Southern US festival "Southern Festa." Most importantly, she worked with the young people in her town, Saito, to help organize a Saito Community Theatre, which put on two wonderful productions while she was here. She was able to show her town how much fun it is to perform or to watch live theatre. I think this is a wonderful gift she gave to her town.
I think it's a terrible shame that great CIRs like Beth have a term limit where she has to return to her home country. For not just Saito but Miyazaki prefecture and even for Japan, this is a huge waste. So it's with a heavy heart that I tell all CIRs who are leaving, "Thank you for your hard work! You did good!"
|The Four Musketeers at the Ays International Speech Contest (summer 1996).|
Michael Hatch, a co-worker, Ben Brown, me, and Beth Eck
I remember writing this article in my English Class by myself and crying as I wrote it. I figured it was too personal for the Aya Town newsletter to print, but to my surprise they went ahead with it.
I don't know if Beth ever read it....so I'll send her a link and ask her. :-)
Beth in her town of Saito was about half an hour north east of my town, Aya. Ben was in Kunitomi, located between our two towns. Mike was in Takaoka, which south of me.
This is a very selfish article, because I knew Beth (and Mike and Ben the year after) were going to go on to bigger and better things. (She worked at the Atlanta Olympics that Fall). But it was still lonely without her. Beth left in 1996, and then Mike and Ben left in 1997. Then when I was "the old guy" I found it harder and harder to get excited about the same old work. I ended up leaving in 2001.