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Wednesday, June 17

Bye, Bye ’08-’09 I.I., Goodbye

The 2008-2009 Ikebana International year has come to a close. I must admit that I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. This was the close of my third year as a member and second year as a Board member and the year with by far the most ups and downs for me personally. I don’t want to get into the reasons for those ups and downs, especially in this format, and I think the best thing is to just shake it all off and move on. I will continue my membership next year and look forward to what is in store for the Kamakura chapter, but I will not be on the Board again next year. It is this point where I feel most of my mixed feelings. But no matter what caused those feelings, it will never lessen the friendships I have made with many people in the chapter and organization, particularly several of my fellow Board members, and even more particularly on the Japanese side. They have allowed me an amazing insight into not only their culture, but their everyday lives. I have learned the true nature behind many of these women and been allowed a glimpse into Japanese society which would have been difficult if not impossible to become so immersed in without all the time spent with them, not only as a fellow Board member, but mostly as a friend. These women took me under their wings as someone who not only wanted to learn and to share in their culture, but wanted to get to know what was in their hearts and have them wish for the same in return. When I was at my lowest, it was our chapter’s President who called me to tell me that we were not just Board members, but we were family. And she meant it. I can only hope that I was able to adequately demonstrate the depth of my feelings for her comment, but mostly for her presence in my life.

To end our year, our final Board meeting was held at our President’s home, kneeling in her familiar tatami room. Following this meeting, she had organized a seven course luncheon for us at a Chinese restaurant tucked into the side of a mountain in Kamakura. Myself and another Board member both had babies in the past I.I. year, so our President went above and beyond to make them (or really their mamas) feel included by having the restaurant create tiny baby beds, in traditional Japanese fashion, on the tatami floor of the narrow adjoining room where windows faced the ocean in the distance.

Our final program was only a week afterwards, which included a piano and opera singing duet from Shuko Kobayashi, a professor of music from Yokohama’s Ferris University, and Sachiko Mori, the internationally-trained daughter of one of our longtime chapter members. The performance reminded everyone that summer was here, another reminder that a busy year was now behind us. The new Board was installed only moments afterwards, pithily bringing an end to my role on the Board.

No matter.

I am looking forward to next year, with my newly adopted less hands-on part… back to being just a plain old member, looking to know all she can about Japanese culture in my short time left here.

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