Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

About being an Okinawa Goodwill Ambassador

Some of you may already know that I am a Goodwill Ambassador to Okinawa that was appointed by the Governor of Okinawa to promote goodwill and understanding about Okinawa and it's culture. Before I ever came along however there was a very nice Okinawan lady named Ikuko Nichols that has been serving the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai as their Minkan Taishi. In our most recent edition of the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai newsletter she wrote an article which I would like to share with everyone. She has been very dedicated to the cause and I believe what she has to say will be of interest to other Minkan Taishi throughout the world.

2010 volunteers with the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai GW Ambassadors

Goodwill Ambassador Activities by Ikuko Nichols

I would like to express my gratitude to those of you who provided support and cooperation to the Goodwill Ambassador activities in past years. I have been thinking of introducing you what is the Goodwill Ambassador.

The Okinawan Government certified me as a Goodwill Ambassador in 2003. There are currently four Goodwill Ambassadors in Illinois beside myself. From here on called “ambassador”. We work independently, but I think each ambassador has been working in their field of expertise.

Okinawa has human networks around the world, promoting international exchanges and providing promotional information on Okinawa. The Okinawan Government has certified many ambassadors overseas, provided a grant for their projects, and support for their ambassador activities. The ambassador must submit a grant application that describes their action plan, the project purpose, the project implementation, etc. Once the Okinawan Government accepts the plan, it reimburses up to 2/3 of expenses, but the rest of expenses are shouldered by the ambassador or the organization they are associated with. The ambassador duty is voluntary and not for financial gain.

While there are many the ambassadors certified by the Okinawan Government, sadly many of them are not actively applying for the grant. Becoming a goodwill ambassador is not limited to Okinawan people; anyone who understands Okinawa, and can contribute to the international exchange can be one as long as they meet the criteria.

Now I would like to introduce you to my past ambassador activities and my plan for the future as an ambassador.

1. My first business activities as a Goodwill Ambassador were when I participated in the Rotary International Convention that was held in McCormick Center and hosted by the Rotary Club's headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. I volunteered as a guide to the Rotary Club of Okinawa.

2. I Attend The 100th Anniversary of the Hawaii Okinawa Kenjinkai and the first Sekai no Uchinanchu Taikai. I Met other Okinawa Kenjinkai presidents and attended the goodwill ambassador conference for an exchange of ideas.

3. I Carried out the project “Other Japan”. It is an exchange program between DuPage College and Ryukyu University that sent 20 DuPage College students to Okinawa. I arranged the event with Mr. Youkou Asato, the author of “Battle in Okinawa –Memoir of one mother”, and the exchange students so they could learn about World War II and the importance of peace through him.

4. I have an annual booth at Japan Day, in Arlington Heights each year where I introduced the Okinawan culture through display and demonstration of Okinawan pottery, lacquerware, textiles, fork art, and Sanshin music. One of the other goodwill ambassadors, Tom Corrao, also joined this event last year.

5. I joined in the Okinawan Immigration Centennial celebrations in Argentina.

6. I established an Okinawan club at Jonathan Burr Elementary school a Chicago public school.

7. I invited an Okinawan popular performing arts Eisa instructor to Chicago to teach Eisa to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai members.

I enjoyed all these projects, but I could not have realized some of them without your support. For this I Thank you. I also look forward to your continued support and understanding in the future.

As a future plan, I am thinking of inviting a professional Sanshin instructor to teach Sanshin to our future generation. If you have an idea or plan for the goodwill ambassador, I like to work with the plan or with you.

Ikuko Nichols

Japan Day 2010 Arlington Heights Illinois
Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai – Goodwill Ambassador
I would like to commend Ikuko for her hard work and dedication to her cause. It seems as if there are many Minkan Taishi out there that could use an example like her. Keep up the good work you are a motivation to us all Ikuko!

1 comment:

  1. I am a student of japanese culture to university,
    I read :私は読みました

    This custom dates back to prehistoric times?