Friday, August 12, 2011

And that's a wrap! By Celia

Dr. J doing what she does best!
It’s been an amazing summer interning with Dr. Judy! I cannot believe how fast time flies. I still remember my first day as  her intern, rushing to CNN and The Friars Club-still shell shocked about being in New York! The past few weeks have been incredibly hectic, since I have been fortunate enough to accompany her to various TV programs that she a guest on.
Breathtaking view of Columbus Circle near dusk
Last week, I was able to attend a Channel 11 news program, where Dr. Judy was a guest on Dr. Steve’s show; he’s a medical doctor who has a show like Dr. Oz, that airs on WPIX-TV in NY and on five other Tribune stations, and is going to be syndicated in the fall.  She spoke extensively about male menopause, and how it is a real phenomenon that men go through.  I absolutely loved watching her interact with Dr. Steve and thought that the various points that she made regarding male menopause (also known as “manopause” and which Dr. Judy called “andropause” referring to male hormones) were incredibly interesting. I had no idea that menopause affected men as well as women-it always seemed like an inherently female issue, since society has made it out to be that way. Since most people think that male menopause is the same as a mid-life crisis, I was captivated by Dr. Judy’s in depth analysis of the biological issue. Male menopause not only inflicts men in some of the same ways in inflicts women-depletion in libido, energy and sleep deprivation-but can really deter a man’s overall level of life if it is left unacknowledged and untreated.  She also pointed out how it was amusing that we ise a masculine prefix – menopause -  for the “female change of life” when it could be called “woman-o-pause” (but it is based on the word “menarch” for menstruation. She also pointed out that the age for andropause is widening to 35-55 years old for men.
 After Dr. Judy’s appearance on Channel 11, we had to rush right over to her next appearance scheduled on CNN’s HLN  (two TV appearances in a single day-typical, which is typical, and another typical thing that so many things happen in one day and one minute)  where Dr. Judy was on the Issues show with Jane Velez Mitchell where she is a regular guest. She was doing two topics on the show.  We rushed upstairs where she quickly had make-up put on and went into the studio.  On the first segment, she was to talk about a law student who murdered his next door neighbor.  Why did he then talk so calmly to the cops, she was asked.  She talked about a psychological state that was very interesting.  The next segment was about the recent trial regarding Warren Jeffs, the infamous leader of the polygamist commune who was convicted of sex abuse of a 12-uear old and a 14-year old in his community. I loved watching Dr. Judy speak on the show  -- I usually watched on the TV in the CNN Greenroom -- since she added a substantial amount of psychological insight regarding the trial and mentality of Warren Jeffs himself. She also spoke about how the children in the commune were unable to say “no” because they were never taught to by their mothers, who are also victims.   It is very sad that women today still fall victim to a svengalo man and will do whateer he says.  Last time o the show, Dr. Judy pointed out how women would undress, shave, and engage in intimate activity together at his command and follow his “training” to please him, or risk, he told them, not being blessed by God.
            A week later, I was able to accompany Dr. Judy on yet another TV appearance on CNN’s HLN Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell, this time speaking about the recent death sentence of Anthony Sowell, who was convicted last year of murdering 11 women and dumping their remains around his Cleveland home. I always love watching Dr. Judy appear on television-no matter which network she speaks for- because she always makes sure to use her intense background in psychology in order to relate interesting psychological information to the viewers and help the audience understand the overall pathology of such madmen, while also relating the message to real people’s lives
            At the end of the show about the Warren Jeffs case , she brought up a few key points that really struck my core. Dr. Judy said that Warren Jeffs obviously harbors severe sociopathic tendencies, but it is the women-his victims- who need the most help, because they are incapable of standing up for themselves and leaving the cult ranch where they are being brainwashed.  .  All women need to know they have a mind of their own instead of desperately following a despot, and they need to protect their daughters from such sex abuse.  Dr. Judy was part of the feminist movement, like a real Smithie in the tradition of Smith alum Gloria Steinem, and advocates women’s self esteem and independence, so it upsets her when women of this generation have not progressed.  It was horrifying to hear some of the victim’s stories on television, but I am truly fortunate that I was able to hear Dr. Judy’s psychological analysis regarding the situation as a whole.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Year Living in Japan - by Becky Houran

Sakura blossoms

In my previous posts, I’ve frequently mentioned my time in Japan, and I feel it’s important to expand on my experience living there. My junior year as a Smith College student was spent in Kyoto with the Associated Kyoto Program. I lived in a     beautiful, quiet town, called Katsura, on the 
Dinner with the whole family
edge of the city, a five-minute walk from the Honkyu train that would take me downtown or to Osaka. My family, the Nakamura’s, are some of the very best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. My ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are patient, loving and trusting people; they provided me with support and guidance in learning the language and the culture. 

A typical winter afternoon
My Japanese mom (okaasan) is a wonderful cook, and I enjoyed everything she made me. We lived in a modernized, yet historical house, next door to their grown son, his wife and their three adorable boys. Down the road was their daughter and her family, and on the other side of Kyoto was their other daughter’s family. Together, we were a happy, awkward group of sixteen. I attended Japanese and English classes at the Imadegawa campus of Doshisha University with my fellow AKP American students (many of whom I am still close friends with) and some Japanese students. I quickly learned to love Japanese cuisine, both modern and traditional, more than any other food in the world. 
An ancient castle in Nagoya 
My travels, independent and with AKP, took me all over the beautiful country to Tokyo, Osaka, Shirahama, Takayama, Nagano and Hiroshima, to name a few. But no place in Japan is a magical or as romantically stunning as the old streets of Kyoto. An eclectic mix of traditional and modern mentality, ancient temples and homes stand side-by-side with contemporary structures of the modern eras. 

My typical weekends were peppered with simple family time – playing with the children, eating and watching NHK TV – or wandering the mysteries of the city with my Japanese and American companions. Those nine months were full enough to create a single memoir, and it would be impossible to fully portray the emotions and wonders of my experience in written form. The time went by far to quickly, and I still sometimes wake at night expecting to see the cherry blossom tree trembling in the wind outside my attic window. I may be a New England girl in speech, behavior and appearance, but my heart is in Kyoto.
Skiing in Nagano during spring break 
Performing nihonbuyo (traditional dance)
while wearing a special kimono

The land of the setting, and rising, sun

Japan Comes to Brooklyn High School - by Becky Houran

The group of Japanese teens involved with Ashinaga Foundation had one more event in NYC before flying back to Tokyo. I went with Dr Judy and Lebo to Gotham High School in Brooklyn where we met up with Ariana Moir, a member of the education section of the Japan Society— shockingly, it turned out the Ariana, whose name seemed familiar, actually attended Sant Bani School with me, although she was a bit older. It was nice to talk about our history with the school and reflect on how small the world really is; what are the chances of our meeting? Our small group, along with several members of the press, teachers and a large group of students, piled into a small classroom to await a meeting with the Ashinaga kids. 

The Ashinaga students watch 
as the Gotham students  show 
their prowess through Copoeira

The Brazilian art of Copoeira

The presentation began with the Japanese students introducing themselves and telling a brief story about their individual experiences with trauma. Then the American kids took turns asking questions – the language barrier caused some difficulty, but the Ashinaga group was led by a wonderful interpreter. The kids at Gotham were so excited to meet people their own age from Japan, and they loved being able to share their interest in Japanese culture and a little bit of their unique backgrounds. After a display of choral music and a demonstration of the rhythmic Brazilian martial art, Capoeira, the two groups exchanged large fabric banners they’d made for each other. It was a confusing, messy affair, but it allowed the kids to share smiles and laugh at blunders as they passed the banners to one another. 

The kids trade the beautiful banners they made for one another

After the Gotham kids bashfully bestowed a present of custom t-shirts, which were received with blushes and quiet words of thanks, the cultural barrier became less intimidating and the students became just a mix of kids – laughing, rough-housing and exchanging emails. The Gotham kids, themselves from difficult backgrounds – brought smile to their guests faces, and excitement to everyone in the room. Watching new friends form is always a wonderful experience, and in that brief two hours, it was magical to see that, even with fresh memories of disaster, these kids embraced their new friends with smiles on their faces.

An Evening In the Turkish Mission - by Becky Houran

We spent the afternoon sheltered from the torrent of rain enjoying a small, intimate event in the Turkish Mission. It was the launch of this year’s Centerpoint Now magazine publication by the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations, in honor of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Dr. Judy was invited because she wrote a piece for the magazine about her project of empowering girls in Africa. The magazine highlights a plethora of work done by people and organizations around the world – all linked together through the idea of breaking down cultural barriers, sharing unique history and connecting the world. 

The magazine was published by Dr. Judy’s friends in the NGO community at the UN, Sherrill Kazan Alvarez de Toledo (President of the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations and publisher of the magazine), and her daughter, Shamina de Gonzaga, (editor of Centerpoint Now and a major youth figure at the United Nations since her childhood). A panel of ambassadors and artists spoke about their contributions and hopes for the future. They provided an array of eloquent statements: “The alliance of civilizations was chosen to translate political initiatives in the concrete” (Shamina); “It’s an eclectic journal, set up to tear down walls and build bridges, to discover diversity;” “The alliance of civilizations stands in contrast to the idea of a clash of civilizations;” (Dr. Perry, a panelist); and “It’s a dance between internal forces with external forces.” It was a presentation of imaginative solutions and impressive insight.

Japanese Students in Times Square - by Becky Houran

Lebo, Shiqian and I joined the Ashinaga Foundation for a fundraiser in Times Square to build an orphanage in Japan. There were a mixture of adults, elderly and orphaned teens holding up signs, chanting, “Please help the orphans “ in Japanese and English. The kids were spread out throughout the square handing out small tissue packs that included a pamphlet explaining their cause. It was powerfully touching to see so many New Yorkers, tourists and Japanese-Americans respond so positively with kind words and donations. Seeing cultures some together in a time of need is a powerful thing – even more so on a stiflingly hot, humid day in the heart of the bustling city. I think that anyone feeling the grief of loss would benefit from the heart-warming support of an organization like HappyDoll Inc. or Global Kids Connect.  (6/9/2011)

A little boy's donation brings warmth to everyone's heart

Adorned in eye-catching attire and sporting a bright sign, the students ask for donations

Connecting the World - by Becky Houran

This summer is full of projects, but one of my main focuses is a project Dr. Judy founded called Global Kids Connect (GKC). GKC grew out of Dr Judy’s work in Haiti with her colleague, Father Wismick (also a rep for her United Nation NGO, the International Association of Applied Psychology), her work in Japan over many years, and her work in helping the survivors of disasters around the world. This project is perfect for me because it united my interest in in psychology, helping people, and in international places, especially Japan. 
Children with their decorated Happy Dolls in Japan

How amazing that Dr. Judy teamed up with a Japanese organization, called HappyDoll Inc. Nozomi Terao, a native of Tokyo, Japan, began HappyDoll Inc. in January of 2011, just a few months before the earthquake. A former banker, Nozomi had the goal of working with and for children. She has been running a summer camp for kids every summer for the last 10 years, but she wanted to do more, and so she created the “happy doll.” Based in midtown NYC, the small organization sews blank dolls and holds events for kids (local and in Japan) to give those dolls names and faces. The dolls are then sent to other children in need. Like Nozomi, Dr. Judy has also been very focused on the needs of those suffering all over the world.

GKC is an international project to spread warmth and support among children impacted by the trauma of disaster. After the earthquake in Haiti, to help kids, Dr. Judy developed a cultural project for children where children in the U.S. wrote cards of hope and comfort for the children of Haiti (similar to projects that happened right after 9/11), and her music group, The Stand Up for Peace Project, wrote a song of healing in Creole, which they taught to the children in Haiti. Similarly, HappyDoll Inc. started a project after the devastating tsunami in Japan, sending soft, plush dolls to the children suffering after the disaster. Dr. Judy and Nozomi Terao collaborated to bring the two organizations together to connect U.S., Haitian and Japanese children through the creation and exchange of plush dolls among those two countries and the U.S.A.

One of the most exciting events for me in this summer internship with Dr. Judy is that I was invited to be part of the GKC project mission going to Haiti over the July 4th weekend. I am amazed at this opportunity- who would have thought I would actually be going to Haiti on my internship to do this important work! I told Dr. Judy when she interviewed me on camera, “this is so much different from just studying about issues at school, to be in the field making a difference. I am so lucky to have this opportunity.”

Children with blank dolls in North Carolina
We brought dolls to Haiti that were made in the U.S. and in Japan. Haitian children came together in a day of creativity, relaxation, song and dance to celebrate each other and their peers. Nozomi described the look on the Japanese children’s faces when they were making the dolls for the Haiti children, as they experienced this creative process: “There was happiness, a look of mystery about where the dolls were going next, the feeling of understanding that they were making something that would go across the world, to strangers. They knew that they were helping other children – even though the earthquake in Haiti was over a year ago, the kids are still suffering, and they need help. And they [the Japanese children] got it, they understood.”

The Haitian children received dolls from their new friends in Japan and America, each unique and full of love, and then they drew and wrote messages of their own on dolls that Nozomi took to Japan.

After a day of decoration, multi-cultural songs of peace, and bestowing their love into the doll they receive and make, these messages of support and kindness will be carried to the Japanese children when they get to hold these special gifts in their arms. Through the touch and comfort of the dolls, these children effected by disaster and trauma will be able to feel the love of the children across the ocean every time they embrace their very special doll.

I am excited to share more of our Haiti story in a future article – it was a truly incredible experience.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Global Kids Connect Kick Off Event

     Japanese, Haitian and American kids came to the office of HappyDoll, Inc.for the kick-off press event on Tuesday, June 28, of The Global Kids Connect Project GKC).   The team is leaving in two days for Haiti! There, a group of 100 Haitian children will get dolls made by the children in Japan and the United States, and they will decorate dolls that will be brought back to the U.S. and given to children in the U.S. and also sent to children in Japan.  What a great circle of support for children suffering from trauma.  Everyone who hears about the project loves it and “gets” how it makes children all over the world aware of how other children who have suffered through disasters care about them. And it also makes them more aware of the world, since a history lesson in the curriculum of the workshop includes a map to show where the countries are.
     The Global Kids Connect Project is the brainstorm of our very own Dr. Judy, who has been helping survivors of disaster all over the world.  She cares about Japan as she had spent 12 years back and forth there, doing her radio show live, writing for magazines and newspapers, and teaching at a university.  She also is deeply connected to Haiti, as she was the first psychologist to arrive there to set up a training program for mental health support immediately after the earthquake there in January 2010. She was working in Haiti to develop mental health services and to combat poverty, with Father Wismick Jean Charles, a Haitian Catholic priest who is on her team of her NGO accredited at the United Nations, the International Association of Applied Psychology.
     In Haiti, Dr. Judy also planned a training program, through a partnership she set up with the Haitian Action for the United Nations. She will teach a group of youth how to give the workshop for the children, so the work gets carried on after she leaves. 
     Dr. Judy will give the youth a workshop on self-care, to “help the helpers” and also they will learn songs, written in Creole and Japanese by her band, The Stand Up for Peace Project, with her bandmate, international composer Russell Daisey.
     One of our group of interns, Becky Houran, is also going, as she studied Japanese for years!  One of the TC students who is Haitian is also going.  
    The kick off event was a huge success and very exciting. We all had such a great time, watching the kids receive the dolls, and draw the dolls for Haiti kids, and do the exercises Dr Judy led them through, and crowd around the map for the lesson by Nozomi Terao, founder of Happy Doll New York chapter.
    Besides the children from Japan, Haiti, and America, I represented China, and made dolls too, which was a really exciting experience to me. Since Dr Judy has done earthquake recovery in China, she wants to include Chinese children in the circle of kids who are part of this project of support. The Chinese children would get so excited if they could also exchange dolls with children from other countries and I am sure it will happen in the future.  The children in China then could also feel the love and sympathy from children with different cultures.  Children are much closer in their souls then adults do.
     When Becky and I arrived at 11:30 a.m., lots of people were already it the room at the Happy Doll office, doing preparations.  The dolls were on shelves everywhere in the room, which made the environment so cozy.  Russell was sitting behind the electronic piano, ready to perform.  There were lots of Japanese reporters there, covering the story as it was perfect for them to know the Japanese children were part of it, after going through such a traumatic experience. 
     The event started at 12:10 pm. Dr. Judy introduced the Global Kids Connect Project. Then we sang the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” which involves clapping your hand, stomping your feet and hugging your friend, accompanied by Russell’s beautiful piano music. We also sang the song in Creole (Russell sang the Creole so professionally!) and in Japanese, since there were so many Japanese people at our event.
     Then Dr. Judy explained the importance of communicating caring to children everywhere.  Nozomi gave the history lesson, showing the children on the map where were Japan and Haiti.
     The kids were so cute, including a Japanese girl with a flower in her hair J. 
     Then we made the dolls.  I made the doll with mostly red (as it represented Chinese culture and it felt warm), with Chinese characters 你好 which means “hello” on the doll’s two legs.  I named it “ohayo” simply because I loved the pronunciation of this Japanese word which means “Good morning”.  The other kids also made their dolls. Each one was so special, cute and colorful!
     After we finished making dolls, we exchanged dolls with one another and hugged each other. We also each explained the meaning of the decoration of our dolls. 
     Then Dr Judy led us in stress-reduction techniques that she had developed over years in her work all over the world.  She had also done trainings in China after an earthquake there, which was so important to me, being Chinese.  Collating Chinese recovery work is my project that I am working on with Dr Judy this summer. 
     Finally, we had a celebration with songs and dance. Dr. Judy and Russell had written a song in Creole after the earthquake in Haiti, which is about rebuilding.  It has a phrase,   “Nap Rebati, Peyi ya” and Russell taught us the chorus not only in Creole but also in Japanese.
     Then Dr Judy taught us a song and dance she had learned when she was working with the camp in Lesotho, Africa.  It’s called “That’s the Way It Should Be”, which is my favorite because it makes everyone so close and the room full of love! It was a perfect ending for our event. 
     We took a group picture together and every one talked and talked and took lots of lovely pictures.  Then we celebrated with a nice lunch together, feeling so close as a team.  What a lovely way to do something important for the world with such wonderful people.  I feel so lucky to be part of this summer with Dr Judy.