Yu-Ai October issue 2019 — One Friend at a Time by Barbara Shenk

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

One Friend at a Time
Barbara Shenk

In August, 2017, Hiroshima became our home, to a much greater degree than we could have imagined.  Many wonderful people involved in the World Friendship Center and beyond quickly befriended us.  The more we learned of Barbara Reynolds and the mission of WFC, the more it became our mission.  Sharing this mission with the 800 or so guests we hosted, over 1600 or so breakfasts we served, confirmed to us that peace is fostered “one friend at a time.” As we walked and bicycled in and around the beautiful city, we discovered almost magical places for relaxation and refreshment.   We already miss all these aspects of our two busy years at WFC. 

We miss the English classes where we read and discussed literature and histories together.  In these classes we learned so much about the daily lives and interests of our students and about special customs and places in Hiroshima and Japan.  And we laughed a lot.   

We miss the breakfasts with our guests where we had great discussions about war, peace, cultures, politics, and personal experiences.  Having guests from different parts of the world connect over breakfast was particularly satisfying.  Sometimes they would make arrangements to meet each other again.

We miss the warm friendships of the WFC board members and many others who came to support us and participate in the mission of WFC in whatever way they could.  This included helping with cleaning, bringing food, translating, editing, carrying away and disposing of unneeded items, improving the WFC website, taking guests or interns to the doctor, painting, sorting through books and documents, and moving furniture.

We miss the beauty of Hiroshima, from the rivers which were our daily companions, to Miyajima, the Inland Sea, the mountains, and perhaps as much as anything, the Mitaki temple complex and hills.  We also miss the oysters, okonomiyaki, and all the other wonderful foods of Hiroshima.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our work in Hiroshima was witnessing the interactions between our guests and the hibakusha who came to share their stories.  Our guests were moved beyond words and often told us that this experience changed their lives forever.  It is impossible to calculate the effects of these guests retelling the stories back in their home countries. 

From the bottom of my heart I wish to thank all of you who enriched our lives immeasurably over our two years in Hiroshima.  We will never forget you or the mission we share. 

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved