This year’s “Wings for Japan*” invitees from Tohoku – middle- and high-school students, 12 of them female and six of them male – boarded LX 8947 in Tokyo for Zurich on 26 July. As they did, they already had one long journey behind them: the bullet train from Tohoku and the Narita Express to the airport!
All the way to the top!
On Day 4 came a much-awaited moment. The youngsters couldn’t believe their eyes when the mountains suddenly appeared, rising up on the horizon. “Wow! Look! Take a picture, quick!” – everyone was busy being the photographer. Machiru and Mao, who are sisters, were among them. “It’s not our first time in Europe, but we’ve never been so close to the mountains!” said Machiru, the older sibling. “And I promised our Dad I’d take pictures to show him afterwards in Japan.” After several hours of buses and trains, the group finally reached the Jungfraujoch, the highest rail station in Europe. And just like last year, the Bernese Alps welcomed the party in full sunshine. Everyone fell asleep on the train back. But the evening brought a further highlight: the kitchen crew made a surprise firework display during the campfire.
A cultural exchange
Day 5 was a big day for our ‘Children of the Tsunami’ as they attended a cultural exchange session with students at Zurich University. Hinako and Shunsuke represented the children from Tohoku as they shared their thoughts and experiences “two years after the disaster”. Hinako, who is 17, offered two key messages to everyone in the room: “One: please don’t take your everyday life for granted, and value each day. And two: take good care of your life and cherish the life that you have.” After the session our visitors offered some traditional Japanese gifts to the university students. The students were delighted.
Time to say goodbye
The day of the group’s departure – 1 August – was also the Swiss National Day. So our young visitors enjoyed an alphorn performance at Kloten along with some August 1st sausages. And they were also kept busy at the airport buying souvenirs for their family and friends back home.
* Wings for Japan (Tsunami Care Flight) is a project for young Japanese people affected by the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Wings For Japan is being carried out by Swiss International Airlines employees, partner organisations and sponsors.