Starting My Summer In Kobe, Japan

Starting My Summer In Kobe, Japan

See where I went.

Why go to Kobe in the first place? When I first told people I was starting my journey in Kobe a lot of people asked me where it was and why I didn't wasn't going to Tokyo. Apparently, that's the only city in all of Japan to visit. I can assure you that there are many inner cities to go to, country towns near the mountains, as well as fishing villages along the coast. Many people are not aware but Kobe is Seattle's sister city.

I initially had the opportunity to go here for an exchange program through Seafair (an organization based in Seattle that centers on making memories city-wide). I was selected and paired with another student in Kobe, Japan. We spent one week in each other's cities and experience life in another country. I was able to get a tour of the city by a person who has lived here her whole life. We got along so well that I returned to the same city two years later.

We headed to this gorgeous park called Suma Rikyu that had greenhouses, iris gardens, and fun trails that made you want to get lost in this park.

Japan is known for its wide-spread appreciation for both nature and art. As they overlap each other, besides checking out this park I would highly recommend visiting Yokoo Tadanori Museum of Contemporary Art

Inside of the museum, photography is extremely prohibited. I was basically followed the entire hour I was there to make sure I didn't take any photos. That was a huge culture difference, it is not uncommon for service workers to more or less "shadow" the customer. As this happened to me in the art museum and while I was shopping for clothes at a major mall.

The museum focused on the works of everything Yokoo ever created, a lot of which included album art for major bands such as The Beatles.

How could I not talk about the amazing food I ate while on my trip to Kobe. I still remember how fresh, tasty and inexpensive this meal was. The nigiri was by far the most delicious fish I have ever eaten, and I'm from Seattle. When we sat down in the restaurant there was a small computer monitor that allowed us to select whatever we wanted to eat. My friend's father also selected an Asahi beer and there was a beer-pouring machine to cut down on labor. It blew my mind how technology-based a city could be.

Cover Image Credit: Erin O’Donnell

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.

Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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What's Happening In China?

The Chinese government stands accused of rounding up Chinese Muslims and holding them without trial and against their will.


Recently, NowThis news source released a video of an advocate by the name of Aydin Anwar speaking about the current state of East Turkestan. She discussed how people were being taken from their homes, their lives, and forced into "concentration camps" (her words specifically). She alleges that inside these camps, people are being tortured and forced to denounce God and their own identities and religions and then to pledge loyalty to the Chinese president, government, and country. She even says that one of her own relatives was sent to a camp and was killed there.

This video spread around the internet pretty rapidly circulated this information with the video having over 19 million views on Facebook. I decided to do some digging into this. If what Anwar alleges is true, it closely resembles actions taken by Chechnya to purge their LGBT population back in 2017 and even actions were taken against the many millions who were affected by the Holocaust. Here is what I have found so far:

The government has denied any concentration or internment camps. They claim that people are at special schools to combat the rise of religious violence and extremism. Despite this claim, BBC reporters have published an aerial image of an alleged concentration camp in the desert this past April (2018) that was not present in July of 2015. Another aerial image taken in October 2018 shows the alleged concentration camp has grown in size since April.

Inside these concentration camps, as outlined earlier, the Chinese government is carrying out acts of psychological and physical torture. It is alleged that the guards and interrogators inside the camps are pulling out nails and teeth as forms of torture to counteract any "bad behavior" or "resistance". It is also alleged that victims are tied down in chairs and left in solitary confinement. Snakes are used during interrogations as well. Victims inside the concentration camps allegedly stand chanting things like "there is no God" or "all hail the Chinese state" for hours on end. It has even been alleged that people inside the concentration camps are being sterilized (this is a practice used in genocide to destroy the possibility of any future offspring from the affected group of people).

But, you may be thinking, if this is true, WHY hasn't anyone in a position of power done anything? There are a few different answers to this question: The first is that China is extremely good at regulating what their media can and cannot post. This means any news of the concentration camps generated within the country itself would immediately be shut down before even reaching the post. Also, China has close ties with strong countries and could be suing its political and economic (specifically its economic) power to put pressure on the rest of the world not to say anything. Think about it, many products come with a little tag that says "made in China". This gives China the power and connections to shut down production of goods. In an economic world such as this, production means power.

However, YOU can do something. You can dig around for more information and raise awareness for such atrocities. Here are a few links to get you started:

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