During first period today we were fortunate enough to be able to conduct a voice chat with my good friend, George Ayrault, who is an American citizen living and working in Japan. It was 8:15 am in the morning here in Milwaukee when the bright and smiley faces of the 5th grade students rolled into Mellowes hall with a great deal of excitement. However, it was 11:15 pm in Japan and George and his son were wrapping up a long day. In the first photo on this page you'll see George's webcam on the left and the webcam with the students in Mellowes hall on the right. We had the entire 5th grade class (and Will Piper and Debbie Judge) come into Mellowes Hall to speak with George about Japanese culture and about his experiences living in Japan for the last 17 years. We talked about many different aspects of Japan this morning including: school in Japan, WWII, famous Japanese baseball players, Sumo, geography of Japan, transportation, US military presence in Japan, population density/statistics, the Packers-Lions game, popular sports in Japan, foods, technology, and housing to name a few. In 2003 I visited George and his family in Japan--it was a great trip and we did many neat and memorable things. I was able to share many of my photos from this trip with the students. Unfortunately we were not able to conduct a full photo sharing (and web cam sharing) session with George as the software sort of froze up. George had many pictures that he wanted to show the students as well. At least we didn't lose our voice chat though (chatting through voice is similar to a telephone conversation). The second picture on this page is from our visit to the Mt. Fuji area in Japan in 2003. Pictured from left to right you'll see George, his son Leo, his wife Yumi, and yours truly. This is the third or fourth year we've done this talk with Will Piper and his 5th grade students. We are thankful that George is able to spend a little time sharing stories and experiences with Japan
The students were extremely well behaved and engaged in the presentation. We had several students come up and ask George some excellent questions about Japan--we would've easily continued on for another 15-20 minutes asking George questions, but at 9:05 we had to move on to our next class.
If anyone would like to drop George an email, you may contact him at the following email address: email@example.com . Be certain you give your email a good subject line so George is aware of the email prior to opening it up.
As a side note, it was a little sad talking to George today. A guy we knew from high school, Trane McCloud, a Major in the US Marine Corps, is being buried today in Arlington after losing his life in a helicopter crash in Iraq on December 3rd. George and I both grew up with Trane's younger brother, Richmond. We were all grade school buddies growing up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. George's older brother by three years is actually out at Arlington today for the funeral and burial. George was in the US Navy and is quite familiar with the military life. The Iraq war actually began in March of 2003 while I was visiting George and his family in Japan. To me it is somewhat ironic how this is all tied together.