Friday, May 1, 1998

Environmental Conference

by Caroline M. Cardiasmenos

Early on the morning of April 21, we boarded our buses to go to the environmental conference at the Onuma International Seminar House. Surrounded by shaded lawns and a small pond, the building's entrance was reached by a long bridge. The lobby to the seminar house was crowded as Japanese and American students each received the day's schedule, and a headset to be used for translation.

We filed through the doors of a large hall and moved towards open seats. The room was extremely technologically advanced, and we were impressed by translators looking down from the glass window of the control center. The mayor of Nanae welcomed us, as well as student speaker Sasaki Satoshi, who spoke in excellent English. Hans Wilhelmsen followed, representing CCHS superbly with his thoughtful, welcoming speech, and soon we split into our respective conference groups

The best English students from schools all around Hokkaido were grouped with CCHS students. We had been given the task of comparing our knowledge of environmental issues, such as global warming, pollution, rain forests, and a comparison of the local environments in Japan and America. Following two hours of interaction and preparation, we shared our findings and feelings about the day. The presentations were engaging and enlightening and, from the smiles on the faces of the students, it was easy to tell that a cultural exchange had been made. A large Japanese-style barbecue afterwards led to sad farewells and fond memories as we realized that our shared reverence for humanity and the natural world in which we live would always bind us together.