After a successful American Orientation, the Japanese delegation (or Japadeles) arrived in Iowa on August 2! They landed in Des Moines after a long, but pleasant, flight from Tokyo, and immediately boarded a charted bus that brought them to Grinnell College. The Japadeles were ushered into a large meeting room where the Amedeles were waiting, seemingly disinterested in their arrival. Suddenly, music started, and the entire American delegation broke out in a Harlem Shake, surprising the Japadeles! They held up a “Welcome” sign, and shouted welcome to JASC, and the Japadeles were thrilled. They mingled, hugged, exchanged gifts, and did self-introductions.
On August 3, the 66th JASC delegation held their first joint RT meetings. Everyone was excited to work and discuss together, finally in person after months of communicating over the internet. The delegation then prepared for JASC’s Opening Ceremony, changing into business formal attire (the first of many times during the Conference).
After a brief welcome from ISC Assistant Director Chelsea Irvin, the delegation was officially welcomed to Grinnell, IA by Mayor Gordon Canfield. Mayor Canfield gave the delegation a deeper look into small-town American life, and the history of trade and friendship between Japan and Iowa. Sharon Lu, American Executive Committee member, then read a statement from Iowa Sister States. The statement covered the long friendship between Iowa and Yamanashi Prefecture, which was formed and survived on mutual respect, trust, and genuine understanding. Next, the delegation heard from Doug Lewis, a native Iowan whose professional work and volunteer service has been focused on bringing Iowa to the world, and the world to Iowa. He spoke about his personal connection with Japan, and commended the delegates on their commitment to the important relationship between the U.S. and Japan. Finally, Dr. Sachiko Murphy, a high-school Japanese language teacher in the Des Moines public school system, spoke to the delegation about her personal experiences teaching in both Japan and the United States, and the differences that exist in the two systems.
JASCers next heard a lecture about Indigenous Agriculture and foodways in the U.S. from Dr Christina Gish HIll, who is a Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at Iowa State University. She spoke in depth to the delegation about Native American agriculture, specifically their tradition of farming corn, squash, and beans. Her lecture prepared the delegates for their visit to a local Native American settlement the following day.
The Amedeles and Japadels wrapped up their first day of programming by performing skits for one another in the evening. The skits were both humorous and informative about each distinct culture.