Presenting My Idea – Project TASK 4

After the woodworking workshop, we moved to cafeteria, where each instructor took seat on one table.  The potential applicants and his/her parents had a chance to ask specific questions about TASK one-on-one basis. 

The person I wanted to talk to was not any instructor but the person in charge of PR, Furutani-san.  He also had to meet with applicants who had general questions about the school.  I sat at the further table, waiting until he was done talking with potential applicants.  It gave me enough time to read through the school brochures.

Now the Q&A session with applicants was over.  Furutani-san came up and sat across the table from me.  We formally exchanged business cards.  A typical business protocol still practiced in Japan.  (I wonder, do young people simply shake their mobile phone to exchange the contact information?)

“How was the woodworking class?” asked Furutani-san. 

“That was a lot harder than I thought, but I made a pencil case!” I answered.

“That’s great!  But I understand that you visited us today not because you are considering applying for TASK.”

“Correct.” – I introduced myself, that I live in Seattle now, and that I founded a nonprofit organization called Five Senses Foundation (Five Senses for short). 

“The school brochure mentions that TASK has an exchange program with a school in France, Italy, and Bhutan.  Is there a program with a school in the US?” I asked.

“Not currently. But we are open to any possibility.”

Then I started to talk about what I had in mind, my real reason for visiting TASK.

“I’m really impressed with the principle and the practice at TASK.  The students here seem to be dedicated to what they learn here. 

“I founded Five Senses to introduce Japan’s traditional arts and crafts and its universal value to the people in the US.  Ever since I learned about TASK, I’ve been wondering what Five Senses can do to support TASK.

“How about Five Senses sponsor a few TASK students to visit Seattle for a short period of time, say one week, and to have an opportunity to demonstrate their crafts to people in Seattle? 

“During the visit, the students will stay with a local family rather than staying at a hotel.  This way the students are exposed firsthand how a typical American home looks like and how a typical American family live.  Hopefully the students will get some inspiration that later days will help enhance their crafts.”

Furutani-san showed much interest in my casual, verbal proposal.  He is not quite the right person to discuss it, however.  He promised me that he will introduce me to Kondo-san, a program coordinator.  My mission for visiting TASK that day, to find out who is the right person to talk to about my proposal, was accomplished.  Once I go back to Seattle, I would contact Kondo-san.

The students at TASK reminded me of myself long time ago.  When I was a little younger than those students; when I was in high school.

I spent one year in a small city in Pennsylvania as an exchange student.  It was in the late 70’s.   There was no Internet, but we had TVs.  I thought I knew about the US pretty well, until I arrived. 

The houses and the cars looked enormous.  The ceiling of the living room was so high and I had never seen such a huge wall in the house.  The dining table looked larger than the entire kitchen of my house in Japan.  In the US, everything was huge! Not only the size.   There were and still are so many differences in lifestyle between the two countries.  Seeing is believing.  No TV program nor book is sufficient.  Firsthand experience is vital.

The domestic demand for Japanese traditional arts and crafts are dwindling.  It is inevitable to create demands outside Japan.  The US remains the dominant economy, and it makes sense to market there.  The first step is to understand the customers.  I wanted the students at TASK to experience the similar things as I did.

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