It is hard to believe that the 66th Japan-America Student Conference ended almost two months ago! I used to think that life after being a JASC EC would be a breeze, but—as most alumni would agree with me—that is never quite the case. In a way, JASC trains you to be driven; it ignites an engine just keeps on going, wherever life leads you next.
I find myself in such a spot.
JASC gave me a chance to dedicate myself to one activity for a year. When it ended, there was a sigh of relief, a hint of bitterness, and a lot of tears. A year ago, I had never imagined what planning JASC could entail. A year later, I say with confidence that this process has taught me more about myself, more about the world, and more about life than any other activity I have done thus far.
Still, it is difficult to articulate exactly what has changed in my life post-JASC. Perhaps, it is that I am more aware of my own weaknesses and strengths. Or perhaps, it is that I am more inclined to work in a team. While filing all of the different ways I have benefited from JASC, I have come to see JASC as wine—the longer you taste it, the better it gets.
When JASC suddenly ended on August 24th, I found myself in disbelief and excitement. My mind could not grasp the scope of what had happened. I only knew that I would miss my fellow ECs so much! Since then, many people have asked me how I felt about the conference. I have given answers like, “It was hard, but it was good”; “I am so grateful that my ECs and I have become like a family!”; “I wish I had talked to the delegates more”; “Overall it was successful!” But I knew that no matter how much I tried to convey my feelings for the 66th JASC, it would never come out quite right. There is something about this past year that is beyond verbal expression.
Two months later, I am still lingering in the aftertaste of JASC.
These days, when I walk in the cold breeze of Baltimore, I always think of the blazing Tokyo sun and the murmurs of cicadas. That is my memory of the 65th JASC—it has almost become like a physical reaction. I cannot recall any of the lectures I listened to or any of the speakers I met (except a few of course). All I remember is this warm feeling of being surrounded by 71 other college students, who were just as curious, just as eager, just as excited, and just as tired as I was, for an entire month traveling to places whose names I could not even pronounce. There were surely tears, jokes, laughter, conflicts, and growing pains. But recently they have all become a blur in my head. My experiences in both 65th and 66th have somehow blurred together into an impressionist painting. I have to zoom out just to get a glimpse of what it all means.
The moment Yohei, my co-chair, and I announced the 67th chairs, I was sure that something inside of me was being built—it was a defense mechanism to hold me together. A year worth of anticipation, excitement, anxiety, growth, and battles is now moving past me to the next JASC ECs. My time in JASC is over. Our time in JASC is over.
I am sure that was when it all became a blur. The hour-by-hour schedule became a blur. The meal menus became a blur. The ECs’ struggles became a blur. My regrets for the conference became a blur. But maybe this blurry picture is not that bad. It is perhaps a blessing to view JASC that way. Details are not the most important anymore. The 66th ECs and I can now sit back and look at the whole picture.
We can now enjoy the aftertaste.
In the meantime, JASC moves on! Even with ambivalent feelings for my own JASC experience, I am proud to voice my faith in the 67th ECs. They are a strong, hardworking team. October is a difficult month for them because that is when the initial excitement ebbs and the flood of responsibility rushes forth. There will come a time when every detail is important, every activity needs a back-up plan, and every dollar/yen needs to count. Clarity now belongs to the 67th ECs. For them, this will be a year full of challenges and growth. But this journey is worth it.
I cannot wait for the day when they can join the 66th ECs in viewing this impressionist art and tasting this wine that is JASC!