Tattooing is the most misunderstood art form in Japan today. Looked down upon for centuries and rarely discussed in social circles, people with tattoos are outcasts in this country, banned from most public spaces such as beaches, bathhouses, and even gyms. Tattoos have an extensive history in Japan, and to truly understand the stigma behind them it is essential to be aware of their significance. The first records of tattoos...Read More
Sydney! Yes, we are here! Hugs, smiles, and catching up takes a few minutes in a verbal cascade of enthusiasm. We are back together – our first re-encounter since we began this unprecedented journey back in September in Stockholm. It’s a perfect time to pause and reflect on that which now spreads out behind as we look ahead with eager expectation.
There have been a lot of firsts in the past few months. From our first class as a high school to our first dogsled ride, we have come together as a group of students and staff. Amongst all our firsts, we also had to say our first goodbye to all the students and faculty (now better called friends) from YBC.
Arriving in Sydney has made this farewell from Stockholm a reality.
We feel the success of a strong first term of community building. In just a few months, the students have become a team. Yes, they irritate one another and argue at times. However, mostly what we see is a group of young people who have learned to accept their differences. They support one another, and it’s wonderful to see how they come together to share interests, learning, and knowledge of their own unique part of the world.
They have slowly started to move from learning in a traditional classroom setting and schedule. They are open to classes on weekends, at night, in a museum as well as inside a TV station. They can keep an extremely busy schedule, and they rarely complain. They are excited about learning, traveling, and new experiences.
As teachers and staff, we’ve also had to reinvent our methods of doing things. Skype meetings and calls are common. We are pushed to move outside of any sort of comfort zone and have realized this will be a constant requirement. It has been hard to adapt to duty schedules, cooking, doctor visits, etc. We’ve been pushed into parenthood of fifteen incredible teenagers. It’s challenging – let’s not kid around – but it’s also an honor and a great privilege.
We were welcomed at YBC with open arms. Both students and staff have made real friendships. Our connection to Sweden is real thanks to our friends. Sweden is more than just a country we visited as outsiders. We met families, got to share in others’ lives, shared hopes and dreams of what we’re doing at TGS, and our own lives.
Hence, we say our first goodbye with a heavy heart knowing we will miss the extended family we found in Sweden. As we now find ourselves on the other side of the world, we trust technology to assist us in staying connected.
Yes, a heavy heart, but we smile! TGS has now accomplished a very special goal: the branches of human connections we can grow as we move around the world!
We are encouraged that the TGS dream is alive and well. Our friends in Sweden have shown us through their unequivocal support that what we are doing makes sense to others besides our small group of adventurers.
We start our journey in Sydney knowing that our path is not only ours to walk. It also converges and touches those we meet in or way in unexpected and wonderful ways.
We say our first goodbye holding back tears of joy, gratefulness, and love. We embrace Sydney with the thrill and expectation of those we will meet, and will join our adventure as part of our extended TGS family!