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This morning we held a meeting with Onoyama-San to discuss how our experiences in Japan and culture lessons have impacted our performances and ways of thinking. I thought about how the Japanese believe that the word “nothing” signifies both emptiness and the possibility of many things to come. Onoyama-San related this concept to birth, when we are born with nothing, and how throughout life we are filled with knowledge, feelings, and experiences.

Likewise, Alphea noted that we all appreciated the delicious Okayama peaches we ate yesterday so much more because we forced ourselves to clear our heads of all external thoughts, and only concentrate on the shape, smell, and feel of the fruit. If you empty your head and think about nothing, your mind can absorb so much more knowledge and emotion than you could with all the events and troubles of the day clogging your thoughts. I can still see and taste that peach much more clearly than the two bananas I ate at breakfast a few hours ago. Monica reflected that by emptying her mind, and living in the moment during our concerts, she enjoyed singing each song much more because her mind wasn’t constantly racing to the next act or dance move.

I also thought about the dis-concern and the frustration at the lack of integration and acceptance in the world. At the workshop we held at Min-On headquarters, Francisco explained to the audience his personal goal of bringing children of all cultures and backgrounds together through music. I never really thought about the racial and socio-economic differences among the kids in YPC. When I first joined the chorus, all I was concerned about was singing and sounding as good as my neighbor. In rehearsal, everyone has music in common and everyone is working towards the same goal, so it’s very easy to make friends. You don’t think see a Hispanic or a Muslim, just a musician. So during the speech, I was feeling pretty good about myself, thinking “yeah, diversity’s no biggie for me, everyone in YPC is so accepting and progressive and we’re already changing the world, and….” Then I thought about my school, and the rest of my neighborhood, and how so many people in the world don’t have a YPC to make them more aware of how divided the world really is. People in America like to build fences and stick to what they know. In the cafeteria at school, most non-white students sit together at their own table, and everyone thinks this is normal and understandable. I mean, they’re different, right? In YPC, you don’t choose whom you sit next to; if you’re a tenor, you sit with the tenors. I wish our culture saw things as open-mindedly as YPC, Onoyama-San, and Min-On. They see what people have in common, music, and not what makes us “different.”
– Jared