I needed to think about it for a while. "Is it really okay to talk about my experiences in the school? I don't have any happy memories..." I asked two of my trustworthy friends before I went to the school. Both said, "It might be not for everyone, but I believe that certainly some students really appreciate and need to hear the truth and how you could go through and became this present-you, Toko."
The principal said same sort of things. Top of that, she told me, "There have been two students stop coming to school for around 8 months or so. Today even they plan to come to listen to you." (Actually they could not. So, I gave the audio file of the lecture. I hope it somehow helps them...)
So... I decided to talk as honest as possible, and of course not only that but also, I wanted to share hopes for future with them, as much as I could.
Here is another outtake inside the school. Yes, I'm in the classroom. (!!!)
And here is one more. This is an image I shot when I was focusing.
Wow... The space was really changed. (Desks are new, color of walls are changed, there is a TV, and so on...) Actually it was nothing like I remembered (sure, lots of things have been really changed, including myself.) Much brighter... (I'd like to add, I could even eat lunch at school. - yes, I had "lunch-phobia" The principal didn't know such a thing and she thought it would be nice for me to eat it again, and her kindness completely changed my perception of "Lunch at school". It was really tasty, for sure... very thankful...)
The lunch I got
So, here is something about the lecture I did for the students (about 100 some kids) on the day.
My main theme was... "Find your 'No.1 thing': something you can be really good at or you truly love doing at most in your life. Because it'll keep helping you to move forward even if you have very difficult moments in life." I told them I didn't have friends until I became 9 years old. Because of the escalated bullied situations and my mental and health condition, when I was 8 - 9 years old, I stopped going to school for a while, but even if I could not do many other things, I never stopped drawing and making stories with them. It was a really significant thing that helped me in the darkness.
Until I entered my high school, I believed that I would go to one of the biggest art schools in Tokyo. But when I was a high school student, I changed my mind (Instead going to the art school, I decided to do completely new thing, which was acting. The story/the reason why I changed my mind would be too long to write here, so I won't write the details but simply because of the terrible art teacher, I lost interest to continue to study art. Rather, I just wanted to keep doing by myself.) And then, more than 10 years, I concentrated acting/tried to make a career out of it but it was not easy, and when I got my late twenties, simply I lost so many things what I had before (job, boyfriend, a family member, and my mind etc...) The biggest turning point which made me stop and think "what and where I am?" was a car crash. Even without the accident, sooner or later, I truly needed to face myself and think.. "Where am I? Where am I going really?" Anyway, because of the accident, no matter what I wanted or not, I needed to ask myself. For a while I could not do much (physically and mentally) and after the major depression time, I finally could talk to myself once again, "What do I really want to do, for myself? Is there anything? ...If so... Why don't I do that? Let's start again..." Then, long story short, I decided to learn photography (I chose photography instead of other kind of art, i.e., drawing or painting because it was something I really love but before I never had a chance to learn) In addition, I decided to move to other country to do that. It was one of the best decisions I made in my life.
...I didn't have any confidence about myself except for creating art since I was little. But, at least I have that in me, all the way to get there. I thought... "I must do this. I can do this. I want to change the way of living." And then I started studying English hard and saved money and moved to new place, for myself, finally...
One more outtake. This is the place I got the car accident. (Under the pedestrian bridge)
...I asked the students, "Could you tell me what your 'No.1'? What you guys are good at doing or love doing at most? Even if it's a little thing, it's perfectly fine. Even if others said, "You are not that good!" it's also okay. No matter what others are saying about it, it's your thing, so don't worry. I'm asking what YOU think you are doing good at or love doing. Something makes your feeling brighter. The important point is YOU love doing for yourself. Okay? So.... Could you tell me please?" The students hesitated for a while but gradually they started talking about what they love. Running, Doing baseball, Swimming, Making stamps by carving a piece of eraser, Painting... Some kids also said, "I still don't know what I really like or anything I'm good at." I asked those students, "So, please make some time to think what you love doing, from now on. If you can't find it right away, it's also okay but please remember the question and keep asking yourself, "What do I love doing at most in my life?" and also remember such things might help you to move forward in life when you encounter difficulties."
I noticed everyone of them were really listening to me, and some students were actually almost crying. I don't know the exact reasons why those kids looked like that but I strongly hope my stories somehow resonate well with them... Anyway I really hope someday they could find something they love doing at most in their life-flows.
And then, they sang a song for my husband and me (it was a really truly beautiful, and so thoughtful...) and we sang the school song together. (This was also never never expected to be able to do such a thing when I was little!! wow....)
After the lecture time, several students visited at the principal's room to tell me...
"I could not say in front of everyone but this is something I love doing..."
They showed me some little things they made... and one of them gave me these origami works.
He quietly told me he loved to make origami art, and gave me these.
Amazing.... in many many many ways...
Here are some images I shot after I came back home.
The blue one is the standard shape of origami crane. And the peach one is connected 4 cranes.
Japanese rhinoceros beetle says "hi!"
I guess... Many of the kids won't remember what I talked on the day, but if... If they remember the moment when they thought... "What do I love doing at most in my life?" and "That might help me to move forward." ... I'm really happy. I believe if they can find that, they can somehow survive and they can find their own happiness.
The time I was at the school was hard but eventually, I could learn a lot, not only just each subject I studied but also much more important things for life. I am truly thankful that I could be at the space again and yes, could have this new experience and memory...
Really appreciate the warm kind acceptance of the principal (me to visit the school and do this project) It's not only for the photo project but also for my life. Arigatai...........
After the visit, I thought... I'm doing really right thing for my life.
I shot several more images at the school. I'll upload later.
to be continued...