Experiences Are a Part of Us
In Japan, the petals of the sakura cherry tree are held in particular regard. They bloom spectacularly, blessing streets and parks with a burst of chiffon pink. Within days, the petals fall from the trees, seemingly without any hesitation. They do not cling to the tree and wither. Rather, they embrace the bittersweet end as a vital aspect of any undertaking. Today, we said our goodbyes to those who had grown so close to us, with heartfelt gratitude. But unlike the sakura, it was very difficult for us to let go. It was hard to watch the screen as each student said their final thanks and bid farewell to our team. Despite spending such a short time together, we have all grown very close. A common love for Japan and an appreciation for each other has helped the class of 2020 to overcome tremendous hurdles and build bonds that many thought impossible for an online academy. It was hard to watch it come to an end. But also unlike the sakura, this ending is far from final. As life carries our members far away from the tree, we know that we will always be able to find each other whenever we reach out. The world will change in time, and soon we may find ourselves gathered together again, perhaps under a real sakura tree. We will find ourselves facing, for the first time, people who we already consider to be dear friends and colleagues. In the meantime, whenever we watch Spirited Away, whenever we open our books to study more Japanese, whenever we see a daruma, we will feel the bonds of friendship that encompass us. And if ever we feel like we cannot stand on our own, we know that we have each other to lift us up once again.
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