Summer has come to Japan, and it is hot as balls. The heat isn’t as bad as the humidity. At night, and even during the day, you can actually see the air because it is so thick with moisture. Every few days we hit a breaking point. The sky opens up and torrents of rain pour down. I’ve taken to bringing a spare t-shirt and a towel to school with me, as I tend to sweat through the first one before second period.  In August the rain will taper off, the heat will increase, and my students will be off on their summer vacation. And so will I.

My friend Dana is coming to Japan in August, for which I am very excited. Though I’ve only known Dana for a year, she’s someone with which I feel very close. She’s very intelligent and quite well traveled, but I think Japan will be a whole other world to her. A culture similar to our own but in many ways quite different. I look forward to showing her around and us making some new discoveries together.

Our plans are still in the rough stages. We’ll meet in Tokyo, explore the city for a week, take a day trip to Kamakura, go clubbing at Ageha. The next week will be spent in Kansai. A day in my town, a day for Kobe or Nara, and the remainder split between Kyoto and Osaka. There is so much to this country and each city. The same can be said of the US. I still have so much more to see.

July 7th is Tanabata Matsuri, and though I will post this later, today is Independence Day. I’ve spent the past week doing a bit of cultural exchange in my classes, explaining the 4th of July to my students while they explain Tanabata Matsuri to me. I put together a nice Powerpoint presentation and speech, which I feel went very well. However, doing research for the presentation made me a bit home sick.

The 4th of July is something uniquely American, and the Boston celebration is quite amazing. I’ve often over looked it in the past, but the 4th of July, America’s history and what America stands for is something truly wonderful. Becoming jaded is easy, and the word “patriotism” is bandied about by a lot of ignorant and hateful people. They abuse the word, and make people ashamed of its presentation. But patriotism isn’t something we should shy from, or twist for our own meanings. Patriotism is not owned by one group but shared by any individuals who love their country. Those who fight for their country, be it in war or by pushing for positive change and greater unification, are patriots. People who seek bring progress, focus on the welfare of their fellow man and the betterment of their country are patriots. Those who seek to undermine the lesser man, the under privileged, the poor, the diverse and the different, are no better than the oppressive monarchy we fought to free ourselves from two hundred thirty four years ago. They are no patriots.

For all its faults and flaws, I love America. I know what it is, what it was and what it can be. I hope for a brighter tomorrow, and support all those working towards one. Living in a foreign country, despite it being one I love, has given me a renewed sense of patriotism. I am proud to be an American. And while I can’t see a large fireworks display or listen to the Boston Pops, I will spend this night grilling hamburgers, drinking beer, and lighting off what fire works I can get at the local convenience store while humming the Star Spangled Banner. Not in that order, though. What could be more American?


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