The earthquake in Japan, the subsequent tsunamis and aftershocks that never seem to cease has me reeling. I go back and forth between being glued to the television and walking away, emotionally drained. Then I made a decision. I’m an interpreter. I can be of use the most in Japan. I’m going.
Fast-forward, I am on standby with multiple organizations, federal, private and non-profit. I have told all of them I am prepared to leave as early as March 22nd. I went to my doctor and stocked up on medication so I can stay long term. I’m mentally packing, trying to decide what to take. And then it happens. Fear hits like it never has before. It takes over.
I’m scared. I mean I’m really scared. I’ve been through earthquakes before. Big ones, too. Tsunamis terrify me. Not to state the obvious but I can’t possibly outrun them. There’s nothing about Mother Nature that can be controlled. Japan is a volatile country right now.
Then there’s the nuclear situation which can only be described as amazingly terrifying. Between the evacuation notices and strongly worded statements by the Japanese and US Governments, I’m scared all over again.
I spoke tonight with a US-based relief organization that’s in Tokyo now, trying to get up to Iwate to assist with search and rescue and recovery efforts. They want me there in a week, assuming they stay. I said I would go. I meant it. I mean it. I will go. And then there’s the fear all over again.
I’m in no position to say those of you/us who speak both Japanese and English should put down all we’re doing and hop on the next plane to Japan. I’m going because I can be of more use there than here. But, there is something I would like to ask. It’s a favor.
Whatever religion you may ascribe to, may I ask for your prayers, please. If you aren’t religious, may I ask that you light a candle, sing a song, dance naked under the moonlight, be nice to your neighbor or hug your kids/spouse/partner/parent/pet. It would be nice if you could think of those in Japan when you do so, and possibly include me among those you think of.
One of my favorite quotes is from Madonna. Evidently, she said somewhere to someone, “I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” I can relate to that. I’m tough, too. I’m a strong woman. I know I want to go to Japan and be of use. I don’t think any of this makes me a bitch, but if it does, so be it.
Yes, I am strong. I am tough. Rather, I should say I’m usually strong and tough. Right now, I’m simply scared. Big time. (Feel free to insert some colorful language here. I know I am.)
Bring it on. I think.
Amya Miller lives near Boston, Massachusetts and is the President and CEO of Lupine and Co., which offers Japanese interpretation, liaison services, business etiquette training, consultation on successful negotiation techniques and problem solving.
Amya also founded the Gaijin Group; a group for gaijins all over the world. She was born and raised in Japan and spent time in Tokyo and Hokkaido. She has worked as an Interpreter and behind-the-scenes liaison in Japan-US business for 20 years. You can reach Amya at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more about at http://www.lupineandco.com/ and http://www.gaijingroup.com/.