“People get stronger whenever they hit obstacles” is a phrase that was well tested in the disaster that struck Japan this year. On March 2011, Tohoku, the northeastern part of Japan, was struck by a disastrous earthquake and tsunami. This incident illustrated the disparity between the power of nature and people.
This past August, an opportunity arose for me to serve as a volunteer in Tohoku. Upon my arrival, I was overcome by a sense of awe toward the beauty that was somehow acknowledged by the devastation of the area. However, I immediately understood that this reverence was driven inside of me because I was an outsider who had not experienced the horror of the tsunami, the horror of losing those whom I loved and so feared the reaction the people who experienced this catastrophe would have toward us volunteers.
â–º SEMI FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Luckily, the cordial reality contradicted my pessimistic expectations. People, literally all the people, I met were affable, simply thanking us for coming. Their kindness and warmth banished my naive anxiety and fear. I was surprised how people could be so generous when they had so much to do and had lost almost everything.
Other than their warmth, their strength also surprised me as well. Almost all the people I met had strong determination to live in the same houses once they are rebuilt, even though there is a good possibility of another tsunami striking the area in the future. I was amazed. If I were them, I would be more than happy to leave the place. Yet, with both the disasters they experienced, they still decided to stay. I did not have the chance to hear the reason, but I am sure that their strong will to live will not be diminished by any catastrophe that might strike the area in the future.
These people had become stronger without a doubt by experiencing the biggest earthquake and tsunami Japan has ever experienced. By talking to these people, and by interacting with them, I recognized how noble human beings can become. Even in times of crisis like this, or maybe because it was a time of crisis, people in Tohoku were always smiling. I also learned not to fear simple, everyday challenges and difficulties and to regard them as chances to grow stronger. That is why I decided to leave my comfort zone, my house, and my country for universities overseas, challenging myself to enter a brand new environment. By the time I complete this challenge, I am sure I will be strong enough to withstand any other difficulties I may face in the future. I know I will be strong enough to achieve my goal in life, namely becoming a veterinarian, no matter what. As one of the people who had profound experience in Tohoku, I have a duty to pass on what I experienced and learned to the world, especially to those who may not even know where Tohoku is.
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