GATOR MEMORIES: WATCHING EACH OTHERS' BACKS
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
One of my fondest memories from Allegheny is an 2018 Experiential Learning (EL) study abroad seminar we went on to Japan. Our course title was a mouthful: ‘Post-Modern Kaizen: The Continual Improvement of Japanese Aesthetics and Culture through Appropriation and Recontextualization’. And, it was also headful of preparatory work (as a course with Ishita typically is). The reward, though, was amazing -- exploring one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
We went to all sorts of museums and historical sites, criss-crossed multiple cities, and climbed many, many stairs to see breath-taking temples, shrines, and gardens. By the end of the second week, though, we had been walking on foot so much that our squad was beginning to feel like we'd been on a non-stop marathon.
"We had climbed a gigantic (and I mean gigantic) hill in Kyoto to have buckwheat noodles (nagashi somen). The noodles come rushing down bamboo slides, carried by spring water, to the seated diners. The idea, of catching bundles of noodles with chopsticks, before they rushed past, was exhilarating in itself.
To be fair, food was at the top of my mind for the majority of this trip because of all the walking we did and the delicacies that kept us going.
"Ishita and I were really excited to have this new, tasty treat (breakfast had been consumed a whole five hours earlier). The climb to the top of this hill had taken about an hour, but we were a determined bunch. Little did we know, as twenty of us excitedly piled into this open-air restaurant built at the base of a waterfall, that we had to wait another two hours to be seated for the noodles.
I nearly cried. Ishita lost hope. It was a difficult moment.
"We decided to make the most of our time and catch up on some much-needed downtime. Some of my peers took naps, others chatted or journaled. Ishita had mentioned to me that carrying a heavy backpack had undone her back. So, naturally, with two hours to spare, I proceeded to walk on and crack her back as she lay prone on a tatami mat. This was, in retrospect, perhaps a cultural indiscretion. However, the impromptu Shiatsu combined with the sound of a waterfall was just what the doctor ordered.
"The laughter over my tightrope walk on Ishita's back made us relax and got people chatting so that many in our group took the load off their feet and lay down as well, using their backpacks as makeshift pillows.
Our long wait was well-rewarded. We all joyously took turns catching noodles and eating as many bundles as humanly possible.
"I've realized that sometimes when you're tired of the long wait, like we were, it's worth thinking of how we can help re-charge and ease each other's pain. It can be fun and it certainly provides lasting memories to laugh over."
~~ Alzira Fernandes (Class of '19, Environmental Science Major)
LET'S WATCH EACH OTHERS' BACKS AND LOOK AFTER GATORS IN NEED. IF YOU CAN, PLEASE CLICK ON THE BUTTON AND MAKE A SMALL DONATION. THANK YOU.